Stock to Follow: Marathon Oil Corp (NYSE:MRO)

[Seeking Alpha] Marathon Oil Corp (NYSE:MRO)(TREND ANALYSIS) has officially turned the Austin Chalk formation into one of its highest return operations.

$250 million in cost reductions have gone a long way in helping Marathon ride out the current pricing environment, with a good chance of additional cost savings ahead.

The Austin Chalk keeps getting better, just look at Marathon Oil’s new and improved drilling economics guidance.

As of April 5, 2015, WTI was trading at less than $50 and NYMEX natural gas prices remained low as well, sitting at $2.71 mmBtu. It may take until the end of 2015 or even the beginning of 2016 before WTI creeps back up to $60, which is why energy investors s/hould seek out companies capable of generating strong returns at current prices while also capable of growing their high-return drilling locations.

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The company is expected to announce next quarter earnings on May 06, at consensus estimate of $-0.37. Marathon Oil Corp (MRO) reported last quarter earnings on February 18. The Integrated Oil company announced earnings per share of $-0.13 against a consensus Street estimate of $0.03, missing estimate by $0.16. This corresponds to a decrease of $0.46 compared to the same quarter of the previous fiscal year.

Marathon Oil Corp (NYSE:MRO) is currently trading 26.77% below its 52-week-high, 26.44% above its 52-week-low. The 12-months range for the stock is $24.28 – $41.92. Marathon Oil Corp (MRO) has a price to earnings ratio of 6.88 versus S&P 500 average of 17.42. MRO stock price has outperformed the S&P 500 by 7%. The Integrated Oil company is currently valued at $20.72 billion and its share price closed the last trading session at $30.7. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $27.11 and a 200-day moving average of $29.57.

Marathon Oil Corp (MRO) current short interest stands at 9.38 million shares. It has increased by 14% from the same period of last month. Around 2% of the company’s shares, which are float, are short sold. With a 10-days average volume of 7.62 million shares, the number of days required to cover the short positions stand at 1.3 days.

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There are currently twenty-five analysts that cover MRO stock. Of those twenty-five, twelve have a Buy rating, twelve have a Hold rating and one has a Sell rating. On a consensus basis this yields to an Overweight rating. The consensus target price stands at $31.28.

A recent analyst activity consisted of Bank of America upgrading their Neutral rating to Buy on April 13. On the date of report, the stock closed at $28.9.

BMO Capital initiated their coverage on the stock with Market Perform rating on April 9, and fixed their price target at $31. This corresponds to a 0.98% upside from the last closing price. On the date of report, the stock closed at $28.77.

A third research firm was Citigroup who reiterated their Sell stance on February 20. Citigroup fixed their price target at $24. This translates to a 21.82% downside from the last closing price. On the date of report, the stock closed at $28.47.

Company profile

Marathon Oil Corporation is an independent international energy company engaged in exploration and production, oil sands mining and integrated gas. The Company’s operations are focused in North America, Africa and Europe.

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