Marathon Petroleum First-Quarter Profit Rises on Gasoline Margin

Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), the oil refiner that’s weighing a spinoff of its pipeline division, said first-quarter profit increased as refining margins widened.

Net income rose to $596 million, or $1.70 a share, from $529 million, or $1.48, a year earlier, Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum said in a statement today issued by Thomson Reuters. Per-share profit was 39 cents more than the average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Gary Heminger is weighing an initial public offering for some of the company’s 9,600 miles (15,400 kilometers) of pipelines that run from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. The IPO could raise Marathon’s value by as much as $6.2 billion, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.

Heminger announced plans to study the option Feb. 1, less than two weeks after hedge fund Jana Partners LLC bought a 5.5 percent stake and began talks with the company. The company is still mulling an IPO of a minority stake in its pipelines, according to a separate statement today.

The earnings statement was released before the start of regular trading in U.S. markets. Marathon Petroleum rose 0.8 percent to $41.61 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have 13 buy ratings from analysts and five holds.

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