On Mar 13, Zacks Investment Research upgraded independent oil
refiner and marketer
Marathon Petroleum Corporation
) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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Why the Upgrade?
Operating environment and future growth prospects seem bright for
Marathon Petroleum, as earnings estimates for this Ohio-based
company are on the rise. Over the last 30 days, the Zacks
Consensus Estimate for first quarter of 2013 has increased 7.34%
to $1.90 per share, while that for 2013 went up 11.75% to $10.84
Momentum has been strong since Marathon Petroleum released its
fourth quarter and year 2012 earnings results on Jan 30. Earnings
per share (adjusted for special items) of $2.26 for the reported
quarter were ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.09.
Revenues of $20.7 billion were up 6.5% year over year and
surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $20.2 billion.
Better-than-expected fourth quarter 2012 profits were
attributable to favorable market conditions and increased
earnings in all its segments.
Apart from delivering positive earnings surprises in three of the
last four quarters with an average beat of 10.55%, the company
also boasts an impressive long-term expected earnings growth rate
Additionally, for its fiscal year ended Dec 31, 2012, Marathon
Petroleum returned about $1.76 billion to shareholders by way of
dividend and share repurchase programs. The board of directors
also increased outstanding share repurchases authorization to
Moreover, the company possesses one of the healthiest balance
sheets among peers and a robust free cash flow generating
ability. The ongoing buyback program highlights Marathon
Petroleum's commitment to create value for shareholders.
Other Stocks to Consider
Other stocks worth a look in the industry are
Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P.
Lehigh Gas Partners LP
), each with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and
) , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).