What happened

Shares of Green Plains Partners LP (NASDAQ:GPP) rose nearly 11% last month on news that management had decided to increase the quarterly distribution. It wasn't much -- only an additional penny per share from the previous level -- but the company is setting a very shareholder-friendly precedent of steadily increasing the payout. 

The partnership only became publicly traded in July 2015. It's first quarterly distribution stood at $0.40 per share. Today, just seven payouts later, shareholders collect $0.45 per share. The trend is supported by increasing revenue and profits, which also means that the increases to distributions are sustainable.

How much longer can it continue?

A man standing on a white square pillar against a blue sky and holding a white arrow the size of his body that is facing up.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Green Plains Partners LP is a fee-based limited partnership that was formed by its parent, Green Plains, to handle logistics for the creator's core business: ethanol production. The partnership collects fees for ethanol storage and transportation and returns a substantial amount of profits in a tax-advantaged structure. As ethanol production booms for its parent, so, too, does the financial performance of the LP.

GPP Chart

GPP data by YCharts

That said, shares took a tumble after both companies reported surprisingly weak second-quarter performance, but those movements occured after trading closed on the last day of July. Green Plains and Green Plains Partners LP both expect strong results in the second half of 2017. 

Now what

Investors can hope the second quarter results were a short-term hiccup and not the harbinger of bigger market problems. The good news for long-term investors is that both companies have quite a few non-ethanol growth projects just cranking up. Specifically, two export terminals will be completed by the first quarter of 2018. Considering that there's already more ethanol in the United States than can be used domestically, and that the companies export 20% of production, this is a great growth opportunity. Green Plains Partners LP will be in charge of it all.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.