Pacific Ethanol Inc (NASDAQ:PEIX) last week reported a strong close to 2016 with a swing to a net profit of USD 12.6 million (EUR 11.9m) in the fourth quarter from a USD-1.1-million loss a year earlier on the back of stronger production margins.

President and chief executive Neil Koehler said the outlook for 2017 is encouraging. "We expect ethanol demand to remain strong, supported by healthy exports and increasing gasoline demand," he added.

In the fourth quarter, net sales were up 17% to USD 441.7 million. Koehler said the results reflect the benefits of the acquisition and successful integration of certain assets, as well as its efforts to optimise its plants. Pacific Ethanol acquired four Midwestern ethanol plants in July 2015.

In the full year, the company booked a net profit of USD 148,000, versus a USD-20.1-million loss in 2015 as net sales grew 36% to USD 1.62 billion.