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Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:MPC)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 8, 2019, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

operator

Welcome to the MPC First Quarter 2019 Earnings call. My name is Sheila, and I will be your operator for today's call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions). Please note that this conference is being recorded.I will now turn the call over to Kristina Kazarian. Kristina, you may begin.

Kristina A. Kazarian -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Welcome to Marathon Petroleum Corporation's First Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. The slides that accompany this call can be found on our website at marathonpetroleum.com under the Investor Center tab. On the call today are Gary Heminger, Chairman and CEO; Greg Goff, Executive Vice Chairman; Tim Griffith, CFO; Don Templin, President of Refining, Marketing and Supply; Mike Hennigan, President of MPLX; as well as other members of the executive team.

We invite you to read the Safe Harbor statements on Slide 2. It's a reminder that we will be making forward-looking statements during the call, and during the question-and-answer session. Actual results may differ materially from what we expect today. Factors that could cause actual results to differ are included there as well as in our filings with the SEC. Slide 2, also contains additional information related to the proposed MPLX transaction. Investors and security holders are encouraged to read the consent statement and registration statement to be filed with the SEC, as well as other relevant documents filed with the SEC.

Now, I will turn the call over to Gary Heminger for some opening remarks and highlights on slide 3.

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Kristina. Good morning and welcome for our -- and thank you for joining our call. Our integrated business generated approximately $1.5 billion of Adjusted EBITDA during the first quarter as the stability of our midstream and retail segments helped offset challenging refining market conditions. The diversification of our business model and flexibility of our refining system enabled us to generate through cycle cash flow and despite this being a weaker quarter we generated nearly $1.2 billion of operating cash flow before working capital.

In the quarter, we returned over $1.2 billion of capital to MPC shareholders including $885 million in share repurchases. Over the long term, we remain committed to returning at least 50% of discretionary free cash flow to investors. Beginning of the year was difficult for the entire US refining industry. Inventory levels were high as the industry came off a strong fourth quarter and the seasonal lack of demand as well as several weather disruptions led to challenging gasoline margins. At the same time, medium and heavy sour crude differentials compressed substantially given the geopolitical and policy changes. As the quarter progressed though, (inaudible) supply reductions helped rebalance the market and gasoline and distillate inventories are now below their 5-year averages. For April, our blended crack spread of $18.80 was more than double the first quarter average.

With the sweet sour crude spreads inside $3 per barrel we have moved toward Max sweet mode. We'll also continue to see the incentives to keep our covers full. With our midstream business, we continue to see a tremendous opportunity set. Earlier this morning MPLX announced it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire ANDX. Details on the transaction, were provided this morning and we encourage you to read the deal announcement press release for more information. Looking forward, the US has become the largest producer of crude oil in the world and natural gas and NGL volumes continue to grow as well. With this, increased production we believe that our midstream business is well positioned to -- build out opportunities. Mike Hennigan, will speak to some of the key project updates later in the call. On the retail side, the strong same-store merchandise sales and legacy speedway markets that we have seen over the last 9 months continued into April. We expect this trend to continue as we move into the prime driving season. As we look to the remainder of 2019, our positive outlook is also supported by solid economic growth and expected contributions from the 700 store conversions and in fact we finished our 300 conversion yesterday. Lastly, we see opportunities to drive value creation, using our technology platform. And inside the store, we continue to pursue opportunities to enhance customer interaction and drive sales. We expect the positive dynamics across all 3 of our business segments to support growing cash flows throughout the remainder of 2018.

One of our core objectives is to grow profitably and create competitive advantages through strategic and disciplined investments. On that front, we also continuously assess our project portfolio to ensure our investments will generate strong project returns. Based on our internal forecast the Garyville coker 3 project no longer comfortably exceeds 20% hurdle rate, we typically use for refining projects. As such, we have decided to stop the Garyville coker 3 project after completing definition engineering and remove it from our capital spending plans.

The change in the project return is primarily driven by our long-term outlook for heavy crude differentials. Geopolitical events have caused lower production of heavy crude including lower Venezuelan production, slower Canadian pipeline development, and Iranian sanctions. In addition, more light crude is being produced as a result of continued US shale growth. Having said this, our Garyville coker MAX project remains on schedule to complete the first phase in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the second phase in the first quarter of 2020 to take advantage of the new IMO bunker fuel requirements. Recall this project expands our capacity of the two existing cokers by about 14% by replacing the four existing 30-foot diameter drums with 32 foot diameter drums.

The LARIC project, our Los Angeles refinery remains on track to be completed in early 2020 and will increase our ability to produce higher value distillates. We are also pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, Marathon was awarded the EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year. This is an impressive accomplishment and tangible evidence of our commitment to driving energy efficiency through everything we do. As we look forward to the remainder of 2019, we expect improving industry dynamics of our past investments to support our growing cash flow outlook and our team remains focused on operational excellence, achieving synergies and creating long-term shareholder value.

Now let me turn the call over to Greg, who will provide some comments on our integration process, strategy development and commercial opportunities.

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

Thank you, Gary. We've made notable progress integrating the two companies over the past seven months. Multiple senior executives and other key leaders have moved to our Findlay headquarters. In April, we launched a complete redesign of our corporate website. Much of the back office work that prompted this relaunch was driven by our aligned direction work.

The focus of this work was on cultural integration and developing the framework for the company's vision, strategy, and core values. Additionally, we have launched an initiative to begin the process of integrating our technology platforms. This initiative will enables us to improve efficiencies and deploy a world-class ERP system. Related to our commercial and competitive strategy, we are also very pleased with the continued success we have had growing our integrated business into new key markets. In western Mexico, we are currently supplying a 192 sites, of which 142 are ARCO branded. We now have the ARCO brand in 5 states that include; Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California Sur, and Chihuahua. Recently we have grand opening activities that our first ARCO site in Ciudad Juarez. The ARCO branded sites in this area will be supplied directly from our El Paso refinery. In support of this ARCO growth we continue to pursue additional Mexico supply capabilities through development of our Rosarito light products terminal in Northern Baja and lease capacity being built in Sinaloa.

On the other slide, we announced our agreement to acquire a large like product and asphalt terminal and 33 NOCO Express retail stores in Buffalo, New York from NOCO Incorporated in support of our Midwest product placement strategy. This builds upon prior investments, including Speedway's acquisition of 78 express mart locations in Western New York. This extension of our integrated business model is positioned to be supplied from the Midwest cap or the New York Harbor via multiple supply routes including pipeline, truck, rail or marine. We continue to progress additional commercial development project related to development of our renewables portfolio, continuing to grow the reach of our integrated business model and optimizing our existing portfolio of integrated assets to create additional value for our stakeholders. Now let me turn the call over to Tim, who will provide a walk-through of our financial reasons.

Timothy T. Griffith -- CFO

Thanks, Greg. Slide 4 provides a summary of our first quarter financial highlights. We reported a $7 million loss attributable to MPC in the quarter. Income from operations was $669 million. Adjusted EBITDA was nearly $1.5 billion for the quarter. These results include $186 million of turnaround costs incurred during the quarter. Operating cash flow before working capital was approximately $1.2 billion . Capital spending for the quarter was just over $1.3 billion . share repurchase and dividends were over $1.2 billion in the quarter, including $885 million in share repurchases and $354 million in dividends, which is reflective of the 15% increase in MPC dividend announced in January. We ended the quarter with $667 million shares outstanding and consolidated leverage of 39% of book capitalization or 1.4 times adjusted EBITDA on a parent-only basis. To allow additional time for questions, we've streamlined the information on the call for this quarter. A more detailed segment earnings walk, we have been provided in the appendix of the presentation. A new format on slide 5 captures our segment results and the walk of income by segment from the first quarter of 2018. Refining and marketing segment income decreased $201 million versus the same quarter last year, as the addition of endeavors refining and marketing system was offset by narrow crude discounts across our medium and heavy sour. Additionally, high industry gasoline inventories following fourth quarter strong production environment resulted in weaker than expected gasoline margins and price realizations.

Quarterly segment results were also impacted by one extra month of incremental cost from the February 1st dropdown transaction. Refinery capacity utilization was 95% resulting in total throughputs of $3.1 million barrels per day for the first quarter, which was $1.2 million barrels per day higher in the first quarter last year due to the addition of the legacy endeavor refineries. Recall during the quarter we completed plant maintenance work at our Robinson refinery and the Wilmington portion of the Los Angeles refinery. Looking at our Midstream segment income increased $341 million versus the first quarter of 2018. The increase was due to contributions of $220 million from an endeavor logistics and $121 million increase results driven primarily by growth across MPLX's businesses. Moving to our retail segment, income increased $75 million versus the same quarter last year primarily due to the addition of endeavors retail and direct dealer operations as well as the $24 million increase in MPC legacy Speedway segment earnings. Retail fuel margins evidence $17.15 per gallon in the first quarter of 2019. Same-store merchandise sales increased by 5.4% year-over-year and same store gasoline sales volumes decreased by 3.2% year-over-year.

Items not allocated segments had a favorable impact of $14 million versus last year, primarily due to a $207 million non-cash gain related to the exchange of MPC's undivided joint interest in the capline system for an equity ownership in the newly formed joint venture. This benefit was partially offset by $91 million of transactions related costs primarily associated with adopting MPC's vacation accrual policies across the legacy endeavor employee base, as well as higher corporate costs and expenses for the combined company. Interest and financing costs were $123 million higher during the first quarter of this year Primarily due to higher combined debt balances as a result of the combination. Income taxes increased $82 million due to higher income from operations, as well as a $36 million prior period state tax adjustment. We expect our effective income tax rate to be 2% to 3% points lower than the statutory rate over the long term non-controlling interest increased $68 million, primarily driven by higher earnings in MPLX and the addition of Endeavour logistics and the allocation of those earnings to the public unit holders of both partnerships. Slide 6 presents the elements of changes on our consolidated cash position for the first quarter. Cash at the end quarter was just under $900 million. Core operating cash flow before changes in working capital was a $1.2 billion source of cash in the quarter. Working capital was a $470 million source of cash in the quarter, largely due to the effect of rising commodity prices and the shorter terms and refined products compared to the longer terms on purchases of crude oil. Return of capital MPC shareholders by way of share repurchase and dividends totaled over $1.2 billion with $885 million worth of shares acquired during the quarter. Distributions to public unit holders of MPLX and ANDX was $230 million in the quarter. At quarter end, we had approximately $28 billion of total consolidated debt including $13.8 billion of debt and $5.1 billion at ANDX.

With that let me turn the call over to Don.

Donald C. Templin -- President

Thanks, Tim. As Greg mentioned, we are pleased with the significant progress we have made integrating our assets and operations. One example is the continued success we've had delivering synergies. As seen on slide 7, we realized $133 million of synergies in the first quarter; $89 million in refining and marketing, $29 million (Technical Difficulties) and in retail. We continue to have confidence in our ability to deliver on the significant opportunity set available to us as most of these realized synergies our recurring run rate synergies. Within the refining business, we realized approximately $55 million of synergies during the quarter. Examples include, utilizing turnaround best practices to lower costs and accelerate the completion date for the Los Angeles Wilmington turnaround, catalyst reformulation changes and optimizing Tier 3 gasoline compliance. Crude oil supply and logistics delivered approximately $30 million of realized synergies during the quarter. The majority of these synergies were driven by our ability to again leverage our scale to optimize access to Canadian crudes in our mid-continent region and four in spot crude oil purchases as a combined business. The $29 million in corporate synergies represents continued cost (Technical Difficulties) act renegotiations made possible by the combination.

Moving on to slide 8. As we discussed at our 2018 Investor Day in December, we listen to investor feedback and are now providing R&M margin on a regional basis. An important point to note is that because of differences in our margin calculation method and different composition of our regions for the combined company, our reported margins are not directly comparable to historical margins reported by endeavor. Some of the reasons include cost allocation between cost of sales and SG&A, as well as expenses that are not allocated to any specific region, such as fees paid to MPLX and ANDX. For the first quarter, our Gulf Coast refining margin was $7.82 per barrel, our Mid-Con refining margin was $15.26 per barrel and our West Coast refining margin was $10.94 per barrel.

Slide 9 provides updated outlook information on key operating metrics for MPC for the second quarter of 2019. As we look through 2019, we continue to expect our turnaround slate to be lighter than 2018. With that said, in the second quarter, we do have planned maintenance work at our Garyville, Martinez and Los Angeles refineries. The most significant of these activities is at Los Angeles, where we are nearly complete with a 50 day outage on the FCC in alkylation units. Inclusive of these events we expect total throughput volumes of approximately 2.9 million barrels per day. Our average total direct operating cost is projected to be $8.70 per barrel and our corporate and other unallocated items are projected to be $200 million for the quarter. With that, let me turn the call over to Mike, kind of again to briefly discuss our midstream business and project.

Michael J. Hennigan -- President

Thanks, Don. (Technical Difficulties) We continue to see tremendous opportunity set across our midstream portfolio. We have recently progressed on several key midstream projects across our companies. First, today MPLX announced its participation in the Wink-to-Webster crude pipeline. Although our prior project had sufficient commitments, we made the decision to join this project to enhance our capital efficiency and achieve a much higher return. Second, MPLX completed a binding open season (Technical Difficulties) pipeline, which is partially owned by MPC.

We received significant shipper interest for both light and heavy crude providing the opportunity to move forward with plans to start light oil deliveries in September 2020 and heavy oil deliveries in 2022. This project will allow crushing supply to reach the Eastern Gulf and open the ability to export crude via the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port commonly referred to as LOOP. Third, at the MPC level the Gray Oak project where we have a 25% ownership remains on track to come online in the fourth quarter of this year. Last, as Gary mentioned early this morning MPLX announced that it reached an agreement to acquire ANDX. We are incredibly excited about the announcement. This deepens our presence in the Permian, has natural synergies and integration with MPC's refining business and it creates tremendous opportunity to expand the logistic (Technical Difficulties) focus regions of the US.

Now, I'll turn it back to Kristina.

Kristina A. Kazarian -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thanks, Mike. As we open the call for your questions, as a courtesy to all participants we ask that you limit yourself to one question and a follow-up. If time permits, we'll reprompt for additional questions. With that, we will now open the call to questions.

Questions and Answers:

operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Phil Gresh with JPMorgan. Your line is open.

Phil Gresh -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. First question for Gary. Just looking at your guidance for the second quarter and I think back to your guidance back in December for the full-year EBITDA. How are you thinking about that today in terms of whether the macro environment that we're seeing right now kind of with 1Q in the rearview, which would still be supportive of your full-year EBITDA guidance?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, Phil. As you know the first quarter ended up dramatically different for the entire industry, not just for us, and particularly on West Coast margins were weaker than we had anticipated. But, you know the first quarter in the rear view mirror as I stated in my comments, we're bullish on the balance of the year. As I stated, our margin here quarter-to-date is 18.80, which is about twice what it was in the first quarter. And -- but I think more important and kind of following on the line with, if you recall what I stated in the fourth quarter call, we had predicted that inventories we're going to start to fall, some 6 million to 7 million barrels per day, and they did. We see right now, inventories are at the low end, gasoline is at the low end. If you look at it by region, that really had three are the only -- is the only area that inventories are a little bit on the high side, that's also the big export region of the country, and those results come back in line I think very quickly.

So we're very bullish on where inventories are across the board. It had five, it had two, even it had one inventories. I look at it, it's a very light turnaround year for us. Don, just mentioned that we've made tremendous progress, we're going to knock on what here, but we're going to finish LA turnaround ahead of schedule below budget. This is one of the key synergies that Greg and I spoke to, when we talked about this combination was how we could do major turnarounds, major projects and bring in our expertise to be able to accomplish. So, I would say, with first quarter being in the rearview mirror that we remain very -- very bullish on the balance of the year.

Phil Gresh -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then the second question, you made some comments in your prepared remarks about the rationale for canceling the Garyville coker project. I had two questions about that. One is whether we should read into that perhaps you're less bullish on light-heavies specifically around IMO 2020 or is it more just about a longer term comment since the project does it come on to 2021. And then secondarily, what does this mean for capital spending at the parent company level, I think you said $2.8 billion annually in '19 and '20. And so, should we see that come down ratably each year for canceling a project or are there other offsets?

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

As you recall, Phil, when we talked about this project to begin with we stated it was not an IMO 2020 project. This was subsequent to the initiation implementation if you will, of IMO 2020. So this has nothing to do, we're very positive about IMO 2020 and you've noticed, all of the discussions in DC and in around the international markets. And I specifically went over to Singapore and some Asian markets to really get a really good fix and came away very positive that even those markets are going to be in compliance with IMO 2020 going forward. So this project was clearly the gasoline or long deferral maybe is a better was clearly where we see the light-heavy spreads today. let me turn it over to Don. To give you some more color on the spreads.

Donald C. Templin -- President

Yes, so I mean I think Gary explained it, right. We're very, we're very bullish on IMO. So our view hasn't changed there. This was really a longer term view around what was happening on the light-heavy differentials. And then, to your comments or questions around sort of capital spending. I think we indicated at Investor Day, but this was very much back ended. In terms of the spending, 2019 was going to be primarily engineering year and so we had about $70 million or so in the budget in 2019 related to this project. A really big proportion of the spend was actually in 2021. So I think as we sit here we're very comfortable with the guidance that we gave for 2019 and not being over that and we're very comfortable with being flat into 2020 and we'll -- as we get to the end of the year we'll give more more color around our 2020 budget. But I don't think you should see a dramatic change in 2019. It wasn't a pro rata spend.

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

Phil, I'll just add one more thing up. As we've talked several times on that you didn't visit with us about capital discipline. This just illustrates how disciplined we are. Ray came to us and said -- as we looked at our internal forecast the spreads were there. Still it was a good return project but we have better projects down the road. And so, we're very disciplined and said now is not the time .

Phil Gresh -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Okay, thanks for the comments.

operator

Our next question comes from Roger Read with Wells Fargo. Your line is open.

Roger Read -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Senior Energy Analyst

Yeah. Thank you. Good morning. And let me say, thanks for the additional disclosure at the regional level. I think that'll be very helpful going forward. Just jump in here kind of two main questions. One; if you can help us to understand on the synergy progress how that compared to sort of your expectations, not just in the 133 relative to the 600 plus run rate by year-end but also kind of by segment, how that's progressing. And then my other question is kind of dovetailing with that as you generate more cash flows out of the synergies and what should be a better outlook overall for the remainder of the year, how the share repo -- share repurchase program should be thought of here, the pace we saw in Q1 maybe some deceleration to kind of match cash flows from here and just how you're thinking about that?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, yes. Hey, Roger. On the synergy -- I'll just start up on the synergy. The 133 this quarter is incremental for the first three months of operation, which we had $165, $166 million of synergy. So if you look at that's about $300 million in total. I just wanted to clarify, it's not 133 by itself, you have to look at what we already accomplished. But Don can go into the details here, then Tim will talk about the share repo.

Donald C. Templin -- President

Yeah, Roger. I -- it's fair to say that we are well ahead of our plan in each of the segments around the realization of synergies. So you'll recall that our original guidance was $480 million the year and up to $600 million that's for end of 2019, that would imply $40 million a month at the $480 million level and higher than that at the $600 million level. We're already above $40 million a month, averaging for the first quarter and that was along all of the different business segments.

So I feel very comfortable in our ability. We had a ramp in the plan. Anyways, it was going to grow as the year went on. And you definitely see that in things like retail where we're doing the conversions and you would have that -- you would have those synergies coming on. The other thing that happens is as we realized synergies they enter --- they, they -- you get more months of capturing the synergies.

So if we captured synergy, let's say, or realize the synergy in March, we would have only had one month of that synergy in the first quarter, but we're going to have three months of that synergy in the second quarter. So we feel really good about the positioning and let me turn it over to Tim to talk about the share repurchase piece of it.

Timothy T. Griffith -- MPC -- CFO

Yes, Roger. Thanks for the question. I mean, as we did at Investor Day we really laid out what our commitment around return of capital is going to be, 50% of discretionary consolidated free cash flow and we're going to be steadfast to that commitment. We had the 8.85 in the first quarter, probably a little bit of concentration to it, but we'll assess it over the course of the year.

Again, we've built this metric as a direct tie to operating cash flow less the maintenance capital, we need to support the business. So from that the point, I want to make is that, we are really viewing return of capital on par with capital by that construct. But we remain steadfast, we'll see how the rest of the year plays out to the extent the synergies result in additional cash flow, through operating cash flow, it's part of that formulation. So, we're -- we'll be steadfast to that commitment for the long term and and we'll measure it over calendar period, so.

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And then, another thing, Greg, I'd like you to talk about -- Greg updated us this week on the big turnaround that we're just completing at LA and some of the catalyst formulations that you will see these synergies coming in the subsequent months, but talk a little bit about what you're seeing there.

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

Sure, Gary. At LA as Gary alluded to earlier, we're completing a very large turnaround on the cap now alkylation unit that on the Carson side. Right now, one of the synergies that we've got pretty much in the bag, as we talked about, was from the turnaround management side, we expect (Technical Difficulties) turnaround in close to a week ahead of schedule and under budget. So that's all working well. But where we think the real value is is once we start to yield it up we will move to a different catalyst formulation now in the cat cracker. And this is a true synergy with how we operate our Garyville refinery.

We'll go to a formulation that mirrors Garyville has the same output of that and will result in a huge yield benefit once we start taking it up. In fact, we actually are transferring about 730 tons of spun catalyst from Garyville. So that when we start that unit up hopefully in a week or two we'll get that benefit from that immediately.

Roger Read -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Senior Energy Analyst

Great, thank you.

operator

Our next question comes from Prashant Rao with Citigroup. Your line is open.

Prashant Rao -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Good morning, thanks for taking the question. I wanted to pick up on that a little bit. Ray, on the LA turnaround and coming out of that PADD 5 gasoline cracks obviously very strong. I wanted to get sort of shorter-term outlook on how we should think about captures you come out of the maintenance there given the healthy gasoline crack. And then, bigger picture I guess question for multiple members of the team. We are entering a position of strength for gasoline I think nationwide now versus where we started at the beginning of the year. It seems that the mentality has changed 180 degrees and looking forward into IMO 2020 we think about maybe some benefits there as well. I was wondering if you could speak to the strength of the global gasoline market, maybe the US overall within that, sort of your view, maybe going out a few quarters. Are you more bullish now than you were maybe three months ago, or, and is the reason there to maintain that bullishness for us as we look at modeling this out?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, Prashant, this is Gary. First, I would say we definitely are more bullish on the global gasoline market that we were three months ago. You know, let's back up and make sure everybody understands what happened over the six month period. The 4th quarter was very strong, due to very white crude differentials and very strong -- Excuse me. And a very quick collapse of the crude market, which led to very wide differentials or crack spreads, as well as very wide gasoline margins, that's a retail. So all of those things therefore led to our refineries running full out. Then we come over to the first quarter and we have ample inventory. Now, that inventory really came back in check, not only here in the US but when I looked at things globally and one of the reasons I went to Asia to really understand what the markets we're doing there. I think we're -- the US refining industry is set up very, very well for two things. We're set up very well for both gasoline.

Everybody has talked about IMO and the distillate expectations. And, yes, we've been running max distillate for the most of the first quarter but I would suggest again that I think there's a good shot that we'll be seeing kind of a max gasoline mode in the Second quarter and into the third quarter. And Ray, can talk about that in more detail here. But we certainly are much more bullished and it's certainly evident. Yes, the first quarter PADD 5 margins in the first quarter we're very challenged. But I look at where they have been, they got much better in February, go a lot better in March and very strong in April and month-to-date here in May. So PADD 2 continues to be very strong. So I think as I said earlier, PADD 3 is really the export market to the globe and I think that they're going to be able to bring those inventories in check. But, Ray can go over for you by pad or by region what he sees as far as Max gas or Max diesel.

Raymond Brooks -- Executive Vice President, Refining

Sure, sure. And it varies as far as what region we are in and where we are with our streams. On the West Coast, back in March, we saw incentive to move to a max gasoline mode and we did that. In the MidCon area in early April, we saw that incentive then and we made that move to gasoline focus. The Gulf Coast is a little bit different animal. On the Gulf Coast, one, we've seen stronger diesel prices relative to gasoline which support, staying in the diesel mode. The other thing is it's not all, it's just about diesel prices, and gasoline prices on the Gulf Coast where we have the ability to buy and sell intermediates that comes into play and specifically the weakness of the Naphtha market has driven us to remain in the diesel mode on the Gulf Coast.

What I'd like to emphasize is that, it's -- one, it's not a two variable equation. And then the other thing, every day we're looking at the prices and we're running our LP models to determine, hey, where should we be from our cap points, from our gasoline focus and diesel focus. We're seeing a little bit of a change on the West Coast. Even though gasoline has been strong. We're seeing diesel become stronger relative to gasoline and if need be, we'll pivot again on that . So we don't have a set opinion about which way we're going to go, we're going to let the market tell us and do what's most economical.

Hey, the other thing before before I leave this question and follow up to California and back what I was talking about with the LA-Carson cat cracker. That's a large cat cracker about 100,000 barrels a day and the catalyst reformulation was really driven to fully optimize the LARIC project that endeavor had done. If you recall that project actually shut down the cat cracker but remain with two alkylation units. What we're doing with the catalyst reformulation is make sure that we fully utilize those two alkylation units to make a very premium gasoline blend product. That's it.

Prashant Rao -- CITI Group -- CFA, Vice President, Equity Research

Thank you very much, I appreciate all the color. And then, just one last quick one. I wanted to circle back on the Garyville Coker three. I appreciate the color there. It's a change maybe and where we are with light-heavy differentials and expectations. Just wanted to get a sense as we think about longer-term for your view. Are you thinking may be light-heavy differential, It's just a question of how tight we are right now that widening and normalization sort of the shape of that curve is similar, but we're just starting at a tighter point or is there something in the duration of light-heavy differential volatility looking out as we go through IMO 2020 that in changed your mind?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, Prashant. This is a long-term project. If we thought that this was just an aberration, a one year aberration, we would have continued over the projects. Our concerns over some policy changes around the world, the issues going on in Venezuela, that was a big supplier of heavy crude. And so, therefore it kind of leads to Middle East producers as the swing producer for bringing heavy into this market. And so we just see that is, I would say, the latter to your point. This is going to be narrow or compressed differentials for a longer period of time. And I want to emphasize though that we will have finish the conceptual engineering. This is done. We'll have it available to us. If we decide that the markers churn of Canadian markets open back up, the Venezuelan situation improves. There's other heavies that come into the marketplace. We can reinstitute this project quickly. But again, I think it's just the right capital play, the right capital discipline at this time.

operator

Our next question comes from Neil Mehta with Goldman Sachs. Your line is open.

Neil Mehta -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

Thank you very much. I guess my first question is just around earnings consistency, Gary. And if I look back over the last 5 years. So I'll take the last 21 quarters. You've given consensus about 50% of the time, you've miss consensus about 50% on the time and the S&P large cap average is closer to 75%. So just wanted your thoughts on what the company can do to get a more consistent pattern of earnings execution. We're not quarter-to-quarter folks, but certainly that helps with continuing to support the story when you have a more consistent earnings set of results.

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, Neil, I'm in the same camp as you. I wish we were all perfect and could provide a forecast that follow a simple model, but we're running a dynamic model. And in a dynamic model with -- and we're two quarters into this very large transaction. I applaud the team here for tremendous accomplishments to-date, not only on synergy but on integration and where we see, how we're accelerating this integration from the systems and at our modeling concept going forward. We provided this time information to the market here on a regional basis, which you've been asking for and rightly so, and asking for some time, which is certainly going to help with that. And I think as the market really gets more attuned, we have a huge MLP.

And with that MLP, we have assets that -- the thermal assets, the marine assets, the pipeline, that used to be within the R&M sector that now flow into that -- into the MLP. Therefore, that is a deduction, if you will, or an operating expense that goes through the last R&M section. I think for the most part, the MLP in the Retail side is more of a simple model to be able to forecast. But it's a multiple layer dynamic model to be able to do the whole R&M system. We're going to get better with that. I haven't done the math to be able to confirm or deny your comment of -- I think we're better than 50-50. But as I said, I haven't done that nor is that the real question. The real question is how do we get our system to be able to help you model better going forward to have the best the data that you can. But I'll take you back to the first quarter in the way we -- we're out front talking about where we thought inventory levels were going to go and see that happening and it did happen. So, stay tuned. I wish we were perfect, but we're going to get better as we go forward. Don, do you want to add a few things?

Donald C. Templin -- President

Yes, Neil. I mean, maybe one other comment is we're trying to provide you with information I think that allows that modeling to occur. So, a little bit more color on turnarounds like we did this time. So you understand it was a cat, so that will obviously impact gasoline production on the West Coast. I mean, we're trying to give that kind of data, so you can build that into your model. And that's our commitment going forward is to try to give incremental color like that.

Neil Mehta -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

And we definitely appreciate incremental color, it goes a long way. I guess, the follow-up is the stock the way we look at it, it's so dislocated relative to its sum of the parts value. The question we consistently get is what ultimately is going to unlock that value. So, going back a couple of years, there was a talk about disintegration and whether there is value in doing that. But Gary what are your latest thoughts there? I'm just saying if there is -- if the stock is just discounted relative to its sum of the parts, how do you pull forward that value. Is MPC better together or apart?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, you're right. Neil, the stock is discounted when you look at it on a sum of the parts basis. But I also want you to take a strong look at the first quarter's performance. The MLP performed really I would say right in line. The MLP is right in line with expectations providing $908 million of EBITDA. The Retail performed a very, very well. And as we stated, the merchandise sales are running at about 4% to 5% same-store increase which is very, very strong. Granted in the first quarter with the rising crude price same-store volume was on gasoline slips, because you're trying to get that gasoline price to the street. But you add those two sectors together and they are very, very strong sectors and I compare those to some of our peers in the first quarter who did not -- they did not have those sectors in their portfolio. I would say for the long term, I'd rather be invested in a company that has that type of a portfolio balance. But your -- you saw here in the first quarter, we bought back a substantial amount of shares. I think it was a very smart purchase to continue to buy back shares at this low valuation rate and as we project, the second through the fourth quarters, we expect to be, as I said earlier, bullish and that should provide us with the capital to continue to lean into the share repurchases. And Greg? I think Greg will add a few more.

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

Yes, Neil. What I'd like to do is just add a couple of comments to what Gary said. I think, one, everybody needs to recognize that we just went through a tremendous change. We're only six months or seven months into this big change. But I think underneath that change, when our whole idea going back many months ago, was that the power and what we were able to create by having this integrated business provides tremendous opportunities to generate earnings, and cash, and competitive advantages and we're on track to be able to do that. So ,one of the things that I think that has an impact on the valuation at this point in time is just that we're in the early stages of developing a track record of pulling all these things together, and I think everything you've heard about, the synergies, the work in the marketing business, the retail to do the conversions that drives the integration and all that will start to deliver over time. But we are absolutely convinced that our integrated business by taking it from where we buy our crude, to how we sell it in the marketplace, is the most powerful way to run the business forward, and we'll demonstrate that over time.

operator

Our next question comes from Manav Gupta with Credit Suisse.. Your line is open.

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse. -- Analyst

Hey, Gary. So when I go back to the days of Galveston Bay, it used to be a high-cost asset and then you took over and crushed the OpEx over there. And I'm looking at the West Coast OpEx guidance, it looks a little high right now. And if somebody can crush it, it's you. So I'm just trying to understand what's the plan of action to bring this more to a normalized level, and by when can we see this op cost trending down lower?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Manav. And that's a good point. If you go back to our Analyst Day, we had a couple of slides in there that depicted the difference in the Solomon index. If you look across the industry, what our Solomon index is for the legacy Marathon versus the legacy andeavor sites and specifically to LA. We took Galveston Bay from a very high fourth quartile performing refinery. But we expect the final numbers are going to come out mid-year this year for '18. We expect to have that down to probably the top end of a first-quartile refinery on an EDU basis. The second thing to understand -- I was going to turn over to Ray, but Ray is too humble to answer this question. Ray ran Galveston Bay. We asked Ray to go run Galveston Bay. It was with our succession plan and was that Ray went in there and did a good job operating that place. He more than likely was going to run all of refining, and he did an outstanding job. He has -- on LA our new plant manager came from a Catlettsburg, Tracy Case who ran Garyville, who ran the best EDU on a cost per barrel basis, the best refinery in the country is looking over that refinery now. So trust me we are very, very focused. And I think it's further illustrated in that we're going to this turnaround done early and below budget. So we're very, very focused. And lastly, the work that we just came out of, we've now completed all of the represented refineries are complete with the negotiations of those contracts and we cut a significant amount of cost out of the LA refinery here in our first contract negotiations. Ray, any more to add?

Raymond Brooks -- Executive Vice President, Refining

Yes, I'd just like to add that your point is spot on with what our focus is we've put for the second quarter. Of course, some of that is driven by the high turnaround work that we have in California in the second quarter. But our real focus is looking at the other manufacturing costs. And when you see that differential relative to the Gulf Coast, we know California won't get to the Gulf Coast, but directionally, we can improve from where we are. So that's spot on and it's not one thing. It's not turnarounds, it's not people; It's a combination of looking for all the efficiency knobs, and Gary talked about one of them just now as far as, hey, our contracts, we believe coming out of the first quarter, we have more efficient contracts to work with. And so, we will continue to work with the California teams to just say, hey, how can -- given the landscape that we have out there, how can we get better?

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse. -- Analyst

And a quick follow-up, guys. On the Analyst Day, one of the slides kind of highlighted that in 2019 and '20, you expect close to $1.9 billion in cash to be kicked back from the Midstream to the parent. Given the deal announcement today morning I did my quick math, I was still coming very close to $1.9 billion . I'm just trying to understand is that still the number that you expect the Midstream component of the business to give it back to you in terms of cash returns?

Timothy T. Griffith -- MPC -- CFO

Yes, Manav. It's Tim. Obviously, the guidance on distribution back was based on sort of stand-alone with the combination there could be some adjustments to it. And again, we're not going to sort of reguide to it, but there is certainly, by way of a combination, less distributions that would be made out of the what would have been the ANDX system. So there's probably some adjustment offset by what the distribution outlook as we set that for 2020, which we're not doing at this time. So, I don't think we're concerned at all about any degradation of cash flow coming from MLP distribution and its impact on MPC's capital or return plans.

operator

Our next question comes from Doug Leggate with Bank of America . Your line is open.

Doug Leggate -- Doug Leggate -- Analyst

Hi, good morning everybody. Gary, the MPLX deal address is one element of complexity one could argue. But I think in your prior conversations, prior remarks, you've made about this you remain quite unhappy with the way the overall MLP is traded by way of its yield today, which I think is still one of the highest in this space. What can you do next, now that you've simplified this part of the structure? Any further thoughts on how you can improve the market reception to what is now one of the most attractive yields in this space?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Sure, Doug. The conversation for the last six months has been the overhang of having two MLPs and the overhang not only on MPLX, but therefore the overhang that then translates into MPC. So we just announced the transaction this morning. We'll see over time here how things move. The -- we would talk with the market over time that we continue to look at the C-corp structure make sense, does some other structure makes sense. But I think that give it some time here. this overhang should come out of the market. All the projects that Mike Hennigan outlined here on this call and earlier today on the MPLX call and this combination, we probably have the best backlog and best growth of third party fee based revenue really in the whole MLP space. So time will tell if we get respect for these projects and respect for what we have put forth. I think we will, because it's very clean, it's very simple and performance will dictate how we recover.

Doug Leggate -- Doug Leggate -- Analyst

Okay. Well, I guess we'll have a chance to chat more about it this week I'm sure. My follow-up is just a quick one follow-up on the synergies question from earlier. I just wanted to be clear whether you're achieving the same synergy target quicker or if you're you finding more in terms of the overall prognosis for your synergy target? And I'll leave it there. Thanks.

Donald C. Templin -- President

Doug, this is Don. I would say yes to both of those. So we knew that there were opportunities and the goal was, one, to expand the opportunity set and the ideas that we have that would generate synergies, and the second was to accelerate the realization of those. And so, we're really pleased actually with both. The portfolio backlog is growing and the realization rate is occurring much faster than we anticipated.

Doug Leggate -- Doug Leggate -- Analyst

(Multiple Speakers) Go ahead Gary, Sorry.

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And Doug, the first quarter here -- it unfortunate that the whole industry struggled just from the commodity prices, but mainly from the big overhang in inventory and then the compression of the crude diffs. But our synergies are really masked by the downturn in the overall refining industry. But I really would like to compare this transaction, as Greg just said we're only seven months into this. I'd like to compare this transaction to any other major transaction that's ever been put together on how quick we're able to integrate and how quick that we're delivering these synergies. And you'll see it now that the markets are turning around, we had a little bit of noise here with some catch-ups on vacation accruals and some things that just happened in the large transaction. But you'll see it really start to accelerate and these synergies will be sticky into the earnings power going forward.

operator

Our next question comes from Matthew Blair with Tudor, Pickering, Holt. Your line is open .

Matthew Blair -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Great, thanks for taking my question. Maybe turning back to the sum of the parts discussion. Gary, you have a pretty expansive portfolio these days. Are there any opportunities to potentially divest any underperforming businesses or non-core businesses that eventually might help your multiple?

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Certainly, and we have discussed that in the past. We are looking at -- there are possibly and we're high-grading some of the assets and systems right now in the Midstream system. There may be some assets in certain basins that could fit some other players better than they fit us, and the market is valuing some of these assets quite lofty right now. They -- we certainly, on the Retail side, Tony and Speedway there, they have a number of assets that aren't at the high level of performance that Speedway wants, that we've put together some package between Tony and Brian Partee here to probably divest of some of those assets into our trade eventually. We are quite pleased where we sit right now on the refining side. As we look at the refining systems and how I think we can go in and really make some improvements in the operating expense. We are quite pleased. I don't see that we make any divestitures in refining at this point, but some components within Retail, within Midstream, that we are going through that process right now.

Matthew Blair -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Great. And then your other operating expenses in refining picked up by about $180 million compared to Q4 levels. I think it's about $0.19 EPS impact. Could you just walk through what drove that increase and is the $1.268 billion figure from Q1, is that a good run rate going forward?

Timothy T. Griffith -- MPC -- CFO

Yes, Matthew.It's Tim. I mean, remember that, that other category within R&M has got really the sort of cumulative effect of a lot of the drop activity that was done frankly even before the combination. So you had in first quarter an extra month of the drops that were done in February of last year. That's probably the big delta versus where we saw things in fourth quarter. But that level around between sort of $1 billion and $1.3 billion is -- there are no other big factors in there that would drive anything unusual that suggested that, that is going to change dramatically on a going-forward basis. Again, we're not going to guide to it specifically, but there were things present in first quarter that we wouldn't expect to be present on a going forward basis. So you've got the cumulative effect of the drops, an extra month in there from where we were in the prior year, and again I guess the other big change here is that the -- a lot of the transportation costs within the legacy andeavor system were captured in refining margin. So we've reclassified and remapped those costs into this category. So there is a relatively big delta on bringing those transportation costs into that category. But again, it's probably going to be around that ZIP Code on a going-forward basis.

operator

Our next question comes from Justin Jenkins with Raymond James. Your line is open.

Justin Jenkins -- Raymond James -- Executive Analyst

Great, thanks. I realize we're at the hour mark here, so I'm just going to keep it to one. Gary, you mentioned in your prepared remarks about going toward maximum light sweet on the crude side of things. Just curious how you see it playing out here with a lot more discussions on the quality of the light sweet crude being produced here in the US and increasing amounts of the higher gravity material and how that's impacting operations here.

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Right. Right. Just let me turn that over to Rick Hessling who runs all of our supply function.

Rick D. Hessling -- Vice President

Very good question. If you look at a 10,000-foot level, we're running just shy of 60% sweet, and if you do a comparator to 2Q or -- that will be our 2Q number. Now if you go 2Q of '18, we're 12% up from it. So we are maximizing light sweets in and around WTI-Midland as you well can track. Those differentials are very attractive. We're the beneficiary of those differentials at an El Paso, at a Gallop, at Galveston Bay, and then throughout our Midwest system, we've got just shy of 800,000 barrels per day. We are certainly maximizing light sweet there as well as Garyville and then last, but not least, certainly the West Coast. So we are all out light sweet where we can, where the differentials make sense, and similar to what Ray said earlier, we're running our LP models every day and tweaking them every day based on current length and/or lack of length in gas and diesel in specific regional markets.

Justin Jenkins -- Raymond James -- Executive Analyst

Got. Thanks all.

operator

That is all the time that we have for questions today.

Kristina A. Kazarian -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Operator. Thank you for your interest in the Marathon Petroleum Corp. Should you have additional questions or would you like clarification on topics discussed this morning, we will be available to take your calls. Thank you for joining us.

operator

That concludes today's conference. Thank you for participating. You may disconnect at this time.

Duration: 61 minutes

Call participants:

Kristina A. Kazarian -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Gary R. Heminger -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Gregory J. Goff -- Executive Vice Chairman

Donald C. Templin -- President

Michael J. Hennigan -- President

Raymond Brooks -- Executive Vice President, Refining

Rick D. Hessling -- Vice President

operator

Timothy T. Griffith -- MPC -- CFO

Phil Gresh -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Roger Read -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Senior Energy Analyst

Prashant Rao -- Citigroup -- Analyst

Prashant Rao -- CITI Group -- CFA, Vice President, Equity Research

Neil Mehta -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse. -- Analyst

Doug Leggate -- Doug Leggate -- Analyst

Matthew Blair -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Justin Jenkins -- Raymond James -- Executive Analyst

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