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01-08-2012 15:25:00

Marathon Oil 2nd Quarter Net Falls 61% Amid Low Crude Prices

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By Melodie Warner

Marathon Oil Corp.'s (MRO) second-quarter earnings fell 61% as lower prices for crude and natural gas liquids hurt its exploration and production earnings.

Last year, Marathon Oil spun off its downstream and petroleum assets--creating Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC)--as it looks to focus its drilling efforts on unconventional U.S. oil shales, like the Bakken in North Dakota, Anadarko Woodford in Oklahoma and Eagle Ford in Texas.

The company said Wednesday it will reduce its rig count in the Bakken and Anadarko Woodford plays for the remainder of 2012, and perhaps into 2013, due to lower commodity prices, especially in the inland U.S. crude and natural gas liquids markets.

Marathon Oil reported a profit of $393 million, or 56 cents a share, down from $996 million, or $1.39, a year earlier. Excluding items such as gains or losses on asset sales and impairments, adjusted earnings fell to 59 cents from 96 cents. Revenue fell 2.1% to $3.78 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 59 cents on revenue of $3.35 billion.

Gross margin rose to 39% from 24%.

Exploration and production earnings dropped 44% from a year earlier.

On Tuesday, Marathon Petroleum reported its second-quarter profit edged up 1.5% in its first full year as a standalone entity, as the refining and pipeline company booked profit gains in its Speedway and refining and marketing segments.

Shares closed Tuesday at $26.47 and were inactive premarket. The stock has fallen 14% over the past year.

Write to Melodie Warner at melodie.warner@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 01, 2012 09:25 ET (13:25 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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