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Marathon Oil (MRO) to Sell Non-Core Assets Worth $950M

Leading upstream energy player Marathon Oil Corporation MRO reported that it has inked deals to sell some of its non-core assets for $950 million. The strategic move should help the company trim its debt load, address leverage issues and improve the health of its balance sheet.

Marathon Oil intends to divest all of its Wyoming upstream and midstream assets for $870 million. Notably, this is the largest of all the deals signed by the company. The properties to be divested in the upstream segment include waterflood developments in the Big Horn and Wind River basins and the Red Butte pipeline. The sale was initiated in Jan, 2016 and is expected to close by the middle of the year.

The company has also entered into separate agreements to sell natural gas assets in the Piceance basin in Colorado, undeveloped acreage in West Texas and a 10% interest in the outside-operated Shenandoah discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. The combined value of the asset sales is estimated around $80 million.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, the company saw its net debt to adjusted EBITDA multiple shoot up to 2.7X as against a multiple of less than 2X recorded in the second quarter. The company’s net debt increased to approximately $6 billion in the fourth quarter from $4 billion in the previous year. Also, Marathon Oil’s trailing 12-month adjusted EBITDA saw a year-over-year decline to $2.2 billion from its previous level of $4.3 billion in fourth-quarter 2014. Hence, selling its non-core assets should enable to company to reduce its net debt and improve its financial condition.

In 2015, Marathon Oil closed asset sales worth $315 million, thereby nearing its goal of $500 million worth of divestitures announced in 2014.  Additionally, the company had set its asset divestment target range at $750 million to $1 billion in the last quarter of 2015. However, it has already surpassed the same and has closed non-core asset sales of approximately $1.3 billion since Aug 2015.

Based in Houston, TX, Marathon Oil operates as an energy company. It operates through three segments: North America E&P, International E&P, and Oil Sands Mining. In 2015, the company had net proved reserves of 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent in North America, Europe and Africa.

Marathon Oilcarries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that the stock will perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector are Sasol Ltd. SSL, OMV Aktiengesellschaft OMVJF and PetroChina Co. Ltd. PTR. All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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