Murphy Oil Reports 4Q Net Income Up 45 Percent

Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado, free of the gas station division it spun off last year, on Wednesday reported a 45 percent increase in net income from continuing operations.

The publicly traded oil exploration and production company (NYSE: MUR) made $180.5 million, or 96 cents per share, from continuing operations, up from $123.9 million, or 64 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

The company attributed gains in part on higher oil sales volumes, but Murphy also received U.S. income tax benefits from exiting investments in two foreign countries and the loss of an impairment charge in last year's fourth quarter that did not repeat in 2013.

"We have just completed a pivotal year for our company," Roger W. Jenkins, Murphy's president and CEO, said in a news release. "We distributed to our shareholders all the stock of our former U.S. downstream subsidiary, Murphy USA Inc., which created a significant value enhancement for our shareholders. We also repurchased $500 million of company stock, removing almost eight million shares from the market.

"Additionally, we continue to progress the disposition of the U.K. downstream business, which is expected in 2014; this will complete the transition of Murphy Oil to an independent exploration and production company," he said.

Murphy said the fourth-quarter included a $73 million writedown related to its U.K. business.

In a conference call with analysts, Jenkins stressed the importance of the sale of that business.

"I'm impatient and I want to sell it, you can be sure of that," he said. "It's deeply important that the company stands alone."

For the full year, Murphy Oil reported net income from continuing operations of $888.1 million, or $4.69 per share, up from $806.5 million, or $4.14 per share. Murphy Oil said 2013 net income from continuing operations was the second-highest in company history. 

Including Murphy's discontinued operations, fourth-quarter net income was $75.4 million, or 40 cents per share, down 52 percent from $158.7 million, or 82 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. For the full year, net income was $1.1 billion, or $5.94 per share, up nearly 16 percent from $970.9 million, or $4.99 per share, in 2012.