Marathon Petroleum Mulls Sale of Speedway Stations

Marathon Petroleum is considering selling its Speedway gas-station unit, a media report says. The oil refiner had mulled a spinoff of the unit and still might go that way.
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Marathon Petroleum (MPC) - Get Report shares were higher after a report that the nation’s biggest independent oil refiner is considering selling its Speedway gas-station division.

Potential buyers have expressed interest in Speedway and its 4,000 stores, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The unit could be valued at $15 billion to $18 billion, including debt, Marathon has estimated.

Marathon Petroleum stock has sagged over the past 15 months amid trouble in the refining industry and concern about the debt it incurred from its $23 billion purchase of fellow refiner Andeavor in 2018.

Last year, Marathon opted to split up, under pressure from activist investors such as Elliott Management and D.E. Shaw. In addition, CEO Gary Heminger said he would exit.

It’s still possible that Marathon will decide to spin off rather than sell Speedway, the Bloomberg sources said. 

In October, Marathon said it would do just that - in a tax-free distribution to shareholders -sometime this year.

Marathon officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

On Wednesday, Marathon Petroleum reported fourth-quarter net income of $443 million, or 68 cents a share, compared with $951 million, or $1.35, in the year-earlier quarter.

Morningstar analyst Allen Good likes Marathon’s stock. “Marathon Petroleum’s shares remain deeply undervalued, in our view, trading 40% below our fair-value estimate" of $89, he wrote in a report Thursday.

“We continue to like Marathon for its diversified mix of businesses, earnings-growth potential from synergies and investment, clear capital-return strategy and favorable macro backdrop.”

At last check, the company’s shares traded at $55.15, up 1.5%.