Marathon Petroleum profit tops estimates on robust refining margins

Marathon Petroleum on Tuesday posted a first-quarter profit above Wall Street estimates buoyed by strong refining margins, as demand for fuel and refined products recovered to near pre-pandemic levels amid tight supplies.

 Shares of the company rose 3.8% to $92.48. Global fuel demand has recovered, while Western sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have tightened crude oil supplies worldwide.

 "Year-over-year, demand trends have been, for the most part, positive and the market seems to have reached a post-COVID point of stability," Chief Executive Officer Michael Hennigan said on a post-earnings call.

 The company expects the U.S. refining system running at higher utilization rates in the coming quarters to meet rising demand. Overall product supplied, a proxy for demand, stood at 19.8 MMbpd in the fourth week of April, near pre-pandemic trends, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

 Marathon said its refining and marketing margins jumped nearly 51% to $15.31 per barrel in the quarter ended March 31. Crude capacity utilization was 91%, resulting in total throughput of 2.8 MMbpd, compared with an 83% utilization and total throughput of 2.6 MMbpd a year earlier. For the current quarter, it expects throughput of 2.9 MMbpd. The refining and marketing segment's profit from operations stood at $768 MM, compared with a loss of $598 MM last year.

 The Findlay, Ohio-based refiner said net profit came in at $845 MM, or $1.49 per share, for the reported quarter, compared with a loss of $242 MM, or 37 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.11 per share, according to Refintiv IBES. Marathon's results followed strong earnings from other energy companies, including Valero Energy Corp and Phillips 66.

 (Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Rashmi Aich and Shailesh Kuber)


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