Marathon Oil 1Q Profit Doubles But Disappoints on Libyan Unrest

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) more than doubled its first-quarter profit, though its results fell short of estimates on weaker volumes in the U.S. and Libya, and higher costs.

The Houston-based oil and natural gas explorer and producer posted net income of $996 million, or $1.39 a share, compared with $457 million, or 64 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, missing the Street’s view of $1.44 a share.

Revenue for the three-month period was $21.1 billion, up 26% from $16.6 billion a year ago, narrowly below average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $21.84 billion.

“Marathon delivered another quarter of strong operations across all segments, positioning the company to capture higher commodity prices and margins and achieve solid financial results,” Clarence Cazalot, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

While exploration and production income in the U.S. fell sharply to $30 million from $109 million in the year-earlier period, its international exploration profit soared 33% to $668 million.

The gains in the exploration and production segment were driven by higher liquid hydrocarbon price realizations, partially offset by higher depreciation, depletion and amortization and exportation expenses.

However, Marathon said its production in Libya is currently suspended due to the country’s continued political and civil unrest. The company booked 20,000 fewer barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) during the quarter than previously anticipated.

Oil sands mining helped pick up the slack, with its profit climbing to $32 million from a year ago loss of $17 million, while Marathon's refining, marketing and transportation segment grew to $527 million from loss of $237 million in 2010.