Murphy Oil

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Oil exploration and production firm Murphy Oil ( MUR) has been shaking up its business model in the last year or so, moving from being an integrated oil producer to strictly an E&P firm. That's meant shedding gas stations and unloading refineries, moves that will reduce Murphy's scale temporarily, but should drastically boost MUR's net margins and make the firm less beholden to the ebb and flow of oil prices.

That's a good thing for income investors; it means that the firm's 27.5 cent dividend payout is less likely to get cut if oil prices recede too far and squeeze low margin refining and retail operations.

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$10 billion Murphy is one of the more interesting E&P names on the market. Its projects span from the Congo to Malaysia to the U.S., and they've fuelled a double-digit growth rates for Murphy's top line in the last several years.

That growth (and the cash it's provided) has helped to easily cover the firm's dividend for the past few years. Murphy's payout has been 27.5 cents, now a 2.24% yield, since August 2010. I think that the firm is due for a dividend hike in the next quarter.

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