By LOU WILIN
Weaker-than-expected gasoline profits and higher nonoperating costs drove a $7 million loss last quarter for Marathon Petroleum Corp., the company reported Wednesday.
Marathon Petroleum earned a $37 million profit a year earlier.
The loss in the January-March quarter amounted to 1 cent per share.
But revenue and operating profit rose robustly.
Revenue increased 51 percent from a year earlier to $28.62 billion.
Operating profit rose 52 percent to $669 million.
It was nonoperating items, like interest and other financial costs and income taxes, which dragged Marathon Petroleum’s bottom line into the red.
Though Marathon’s refining and marketing segment had a $334 million operating loss, its midstream operations more than made up for it. That segment, which largely reflects Marathon Petroleum’s logistics, storage and natural gas processing subsidiary, MPLX, earned $908 million in operating profit.
Marathon’s retail operations, which include Speedway, also had a strong quarter with $170 million operating profit. That was 79 percent more than a year earlier and due mainly to the addition of Andeavor’s retail operations.
Marathon bought Andeavor last fall for $23.3 billion.
“Despite challenging refining market conditions, the stability of our midstream and retail segments helped our integrated business generate over $1.6 billion of operating cash flow during the quarter,” said Gary R. Heminger, chairman and chief executive officer.
In addition, the refining outlook improved by the end of March, he said.
“Throughout the quarter, refining fundamentals improved, gasoline and (diesel) inventories rebalanced, and the April (profit margin on refining) is more than double the first-quarter average,” Heminger said.
Look for the rest of 2019 to be strong.
“We expect positive dynamics across all three of our business segments to support growing cash flows throughout the remainder of 2019,” he said.
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