NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC - Get Report) stock is advancing 1.89% to $58.27 in afternoon trading on Wednesday after U.S. oil prices gained, erasing earlier losses, following a reduction in the U.S. oil rig count.

WTI crude is up 0.21% to $42.96 per barrel, while Brent crude is down 0.04% to $46.10 per barrel this afternoon, according to the CNBC.com index.

U.S. oil companies took nine oil rigs out of production this week, bringing the total rig count to 555, Reuters reports.

Earlier today, WTI crude fell to as low as $41.72 per barrel after data showed U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by about 1 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Shares of Marathon Petroleum, a Findlay, OH-based oil refining and marketing company, have fared better than the oil sector today after the company's stock price target was raised to $70 from $60 at Oppenheimer this morning.

The company continues to have growth potential because of refining and marketing margins, crude oil prices and favorable product pricing, Oppenheimer said in an analysts note.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP (MPC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP has improved earnings per share by 49.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP increased its bottom line by earning $4.42 versus $3.31 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.02 versus $4.42).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 41.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $672.00 million to $948.00 million.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MPC

Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of Jim Cramer, TheStreet or any of its contributors.