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Stating that the ethanol business is a challenge is an understatement! But could it be that a cross-over operating point is at hand at Pacific Ethanol (NASDAQ:PEIX)?

3Q Operating profile:

  1. Construction phase of 4 plants will be DONE. Will some cost for supervising construction come out?
  2. In-house production of ethanol will SURPASS resales volume. Future sales will push in-house volume while using resales source as supply insurance.
  3. Year to year market volume still expanding

If PEIX can slowly substitute its own ethanol for ethanol resold in past quarters, to the SAME CUSTOMERS, PEIX can expand its margin; thus spreading costs (production and marketing ) over its revenues. In other words, if its margin is 1 cent on resold volume, it can make 5-10 cents on in-house production.

So, even if the spread between corn and ethanol stabilizes, better margins from selling PEIX home-made rather than resales volume of ethanol can create a wider operating margin than during the plant construction phase.

Kudos to PEIX for developing a marketing business AHEAD of the construction completion of its plants.

Disclosure: Long.

Source: Pacific Ethanol: Market Growth and Increase in Production to the Rescue