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On Oct 9, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Green Plains Renewable Energy Freescale (GPRE - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

The dealer of ethanol Green Plains Renewable has delivered positive earnings surprises in the last 3 quarters with an average beat of 418.52%. The long-term earnings growth of the company is 8.83% on the back of sales growth of 64.48%.

The company acquired the Atkinson ethanol plant for $15 million and invested $18 million in a unit train terminal in Birmingham. These steps will allow the company to sustain its momentum.

The consistent capital outlay will enable Green Plains Renewable Energy to increase its grain storage capacity around its ethanol plants, enhance its corn oil extraction capability at the Atkinson plant and install selective milling technology or fine grind at a third plant in the fourth quarter. In fact, the company has plans to spend $20 million in 2013.

The company’s strong financial standing has also helped it to lower its outstanding debt by $100 million from Jun 30, 2012 to Jun 30, 2013.  The reduction in debts has led to a 21.3% year-over-year decline in interest expenses to $7.76 million.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 34.3% in the last 90 days to 70 cents per share, reflecting year-over-year growth of 300.7%. For 2014, the consensus increased 61.3% over the same time period to $1.50 per share, reflecting growth of 59.36%.
Other Stocks to Consider

Besides Green Plains Renewable, a few other companies in the renewable energy sector are also performing well and have a favorable Zacks Rank. The stocks worth considering are JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. (JASO - Analyst Report), JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS - Snapshot Report) and SunPower Corp. (SPWR - Analyst Report). JA Solar Holdings Co. and JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) while SunPower Corporation has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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