It was the downstream oil and gas industry’s turn to report earnings for the recently-ended fourth quarter ahead of the opening bell on Wednesday. While the biggest publicly traded firms like Phillips 66 (PSX) , Hess Corporation (HES) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC) were all less profitable on a year-over-year basis, all were trading higher into midday due to beating street expectations.
Marathon was far ahead of the pack, however, with shares up over 5 percent and approaching the stock’s 52-week high of $91.95 per share. The company said that during the recently-ended period, it had earned $633 million, or $2.10 per share on revenue of $24.9 billion, compared to the prior year’s Q4 during which net earnings were at $755 million, or $2.26 per share on revenue of $20.69 billion. The year-over-year decrease in net profit for the quarter was adequately made up for by the fact that earnings blew past street estimates, nearly doubling up on expectations of $1.16 per share.
For the full year 2013, profits were also better than had been anticipated, as the company posted $6.81 per share against expectations for an eps figure of about $1 lower at $5.91. Full year revenue of $100.3 billion was nearly a 22 percent gain on the previous year’s, and also ahead of estimates of $98.5 billion.
By segment, company’s refining suffered from lower margins than the previous year, which was largely attributed to greater expenses resulting from shutdowns and repairs, as well as the WTI/Brent crude spread that was narrower for most of the year as US crude production hit new highs throughout the year. The company’s midstream pipeline segment also suffered a 35 percent decline in profitability, but much of this was countered by a 27 percent increase in sales volume from the refining/marketing segment. Also, the company’s retail segment beat out the prior year’s quarter by $6 million.
Heading towards the closing bell, shares for Marathon were trading on heavy volume at around $86.90 a piece.