Marathon Oil Corp. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit nearly doubled, beating Wall Street's forecast, as crude oil prices and refinery margins rose.
Marathon, which plans to split its refining and exploration businesses, reported a quarterly profit of $706 million, or $99 cents per share, compared with $355 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, earnings of $1.09 per share beat the 98 cents that analysts on average had forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 26 percent to $20.2 billion.
Oil and gas sales volumes averaged 420,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) for the quarter, up from 403,000 boepd a year earlier, largely due to output from the Droshky offshore project in the Gulf of Mexico that started up in July.
The Houston-based company said its 2011 production available for sale would be essentially flat with 2010's 391,000 boepd, coming in between 380,000 and 400,000 boepd.
Marathon said it would increase its capital spending on exploration and production projects by 29 percent this year to $3.4 billion.
That increase is part of an overall spending hike of 9 percent to $5.267 billion, the company said, which is in line with levels it had previously forecast.
The spending on new projects will focus on liquids-rich fields, such as the Bakken, Anadarko Woodford, Eagle Ford and Niobrara, rather than natural gas fields, it said.
Shares in Marathon slipped 1.3 percent to $46 in premarket trading.
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