Shares of MGP Ingredients Inc. surged 8% Wednesday, after the supplier of distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. The Atchison, Kansas-based company said net income rose 28% to $8.3 million, or 48 cents a share, topping the FactSet consensus by 24%. Revenue edged down 0.4% to $81.1 million, but was slightly ahead of the consensus of $81 million. The company said higher sales of premium beverage alcohol was offset by a decline in lower margin industrial alcohol. "While yearlong softness in the industrial alcohol market offset premium beverage revenue gains, MGP's bourbon and rye whiskeys reported strong revenue growth throughout the year, outperforming the continued steady growth of the bourbon category and contributing to gains in MGP's gross profit and margins," Chief Executive Gus Griffin said in a statement. The company said it's sticking with its outlook for operating income to grow 10% to 15% annually through 2018, although sales are expected to grow modestly this year as the company continues to shift away from industrial alcohol. Shares have gained 92% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained about 20%.
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