Marathon Oil jumps after beating estimates

By Joe Carroll on 11/3/2016

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Marathon Oil rose the most in nine months as higher-than-forecast crude production helped earnings exceed analysts’ estimates.

The third-quarter net loss narrowed to $192 million, or 23 cents a share, from $749 million, or $1.11, a year earlier, the Houston-based explorer said in a statement on Wednesday. Excluding one-time items, the loss of 11 cents a share was better than the 20-cent average loss of 25 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares jumped as much as 15% and were 12% higher at $14.30 as of 10:06 a.m. in New York.

To cope with the worst oil-industry collapse in a generation, Marathon has slashed its dividend, sold assets from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, and issued new stock to raise cash. The company has retreated from much of the ambitious international and deepwater exploration that was long its hallmark to focus on lower-risk, onshore shale in Oklahoma.

Marathon shares lost about one-third of their value in the past year.

The quarterly results included a $113-million fee Marathon paid to terminate a drilling rig contract early, according to the statement. The company also recorded a $47-million writedown for the declining value of some unidentified assets.

Oil and natural gas production from Marathon’s wells averaged the equivalent of 402,000 bpd, surpassing all nine estimates from analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The company halted a three-quarter stretch of declining output.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil, has averaged about $46/bbl since the beginning of 2015 and has closed above the $50 mark only 15 times this year. That compares to the average of about $95 that enriched and emboldened oil producers during the first four years of this decade.

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