Murphy Oil 3Q Profit Falls on Lower Natural Gas Prices, Retail Margins

Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado on Thursday reported third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $228.9 million or $1.17 per diluted share, down 34 percent from the same quarter last year.

The company also said net income, which includes the results of discontinued operations, was $226.7 million or $1.16 per diluted share, down 44 percent from the same time last year.

For the quarter, revenue fell to $7.1 billion from $7.2 billion during the same quarter last year.

The company attributed the earnings declines to lower North American natural gas sales prices, weaker U.S. retail marketing margins, an income tax benefit in the 2011 quarter, and an unfavorable variance from foreign exchange.

The company also said that it would sell its exploration and production operations in the United Kingdom. The sale is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

Murphy's U.S. downstream business, which it plans to spin off into a separate publicly traded company by 2013, had a steep drop in quarterly profit, falling to $17.3 million from $88 million during the third quarter last year. The company cited weaker margins in retail marketing and ethanol production for the drop.

"U.S. retail marketing margins averaged 10.3 cents per gallon in the 2012 quarter compared to 20.0 cents per gallon in the 2011 quarter," the company said.

Murphy also said it sold $159,424 in gas station merchandise per month in the third quarter of 2012, compared with $164,953 last year.