Marathon Oil is Running Laps Around the Eagle Ford

There is plenty to like in Marathon oil's latest investor update.

Feb 14, 2014 at 7:22AM

What did it take for Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) to grow total output (excluding Libya and Alaska) by 11% in 2013? A huge 86% jump in North American production certainly helped, including Eagle Ford output reaching a record of over 100,000 barrels per day.  

E&P players need to know that they can replace their output in a timely manner, so they don't have to realize output declines in the future. Last year Marathon Oil was able to replace 194% of that year's production, boosting proven reserves to 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

This was partly aided by continued developed of its liquids-rich Eagle Ford acreage. A combination of infrastructure build-outs, better drilling techniques, and an additional 4,800 acres in the Eagle Ford helped shore up Marathon Oil's reserve portfolio. 

The Eagle Ford
During the fourth quarter of 2013, production from the Eagle Ford averaged 90,000 boe/d, a sharp increase of 8,000 boe/d from the previous quarter. If the Eagle Ford is working for Marathon Oil, then it should continue to developing the area -- which is where opportunities open up for other players down the line.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) is building a new $70 million facility near the Eagle Ford to gain a stronger foothold in one of America's most promising, liquids-rich plays. Currently 550 employees will be working out of the space, and due to high levels of expected production growth, Halliburton plans to add an additional 450 workers by the end of 2014. 

Giving back
By increasing its dividend by 12% to 19 cents a share, Marathon Oil is now paying out roughly the average yield (2.3%) of a company in the S&P 500. On top of that, Marathon repurchased $500 million worth of is shares and plans on buying back an additional $2.5 billion. Now I would still like to see a larger dividend, but by reducing the share count Marathon Oil is giving long-term investors a bigger piece of the Eagle Ford growth story pie.

Foolish conclusion
Overall Marathon Oil posted a decent quarter, but it wasn't anything to get excited about. If it continues to focus on growing North American operations, then that 11% total output growth rate could start getting closer to the 86% growth seen in North American. If Marathon Oil can sell off the rest of its non-core assets and invest the additional cash back into American, or at the very least buy back more shares, then it could truly enhance shareholder value.

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Callum Turcan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Halliburton. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

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KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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