Marathon Petroleum sets buyback, may spin off assets

Wed Feb 1, 2012 8:40am EST

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(Reuters) - U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC.N) announced a stock repurchase of up to $2 billion and said it might spin off some assets, sending its shares up nearly 10 percent and overshadowing news of a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.

The company said on Wednesday that its board had approved a share buyback plan of up to $2 billion over two years and said it was looking at strategic alternatives for some of its midstream assets, including spinning them off into a master limited partnership.

The fourth-quarter net loss was $75 million, or 21 cents per share, compared with year-earlier net income of $230 million, or 64 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a loss of 6 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

During the quarter, the price between U.S. benchmark crude oil and European Brent crude narrowed, squeezing margins. U.S. crude oil prices averaged about $92.39 per barrel.

Total revenue and other income rose 11 percent to $19.44 billion. Analysts expected $15.06 billion.

Shares of the company, which was spun off from Marathon Oil Corp (MRO.N) last year, were up 9.9 percent at $41.99 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore and Ernest Scheyder in New York; Editing by Don Sebastian and Lisa Von Ahn)

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