Marathon Oil Co. (NYSE:MRO) was the target of a large growth in short interest in the month of February. As of February 28th, there was short interest totalling 18,679,076 shares, a growth of 39.0% from the February 15th total of 13,436,295 shares. Currently, 2.3% of the company’s shares are short sold. Based on an average trading volume of 11,976,565 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 1.6 days.

Shares of MRO opened at $17.27 on Friday. Marathon Oil has a fifty-two week low of $12.57 and a fifty-two week high of $24.20. The company has a market cap of $14.14 billion, a P/E ratio of 24.32, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.31 and a beta of 2.26. The company has a current ratio of 1.59, a quick ratio of 1.54 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.45.

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, February 13th. The oil and gas producer reported $0.15 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.13 by $0.02. Marathon Oil had a net margin of 16.65% and a return on equity of 4.97%. The firm had revenue of $1.77 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.42 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.07 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 27.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, research analysts forecast that Marathon Oil will post 0.37 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, March 11th. Investors of record on Wednesday, February 20th were paid a dividend of $0.05 per share. This represents a $0.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.16%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, February 19th. Marathon Oil’s payout ratio is currently 28.17%.

A number of equities research analysts have recently issued reports on MRO shares. Barclays set a $23.00 price target on shares of Marathon Oil and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 16th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $23.00 price target on shares of Marathon Oil and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, December 7th. MKM Partners started coverage on shares of Marathon Oil in a research note on Wednesday, December 5th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $26.00 price target on the stock. Raymond James set a $24.00 price target on shares of Marathon Oil and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Sunday, December 30th. Finally, Citigroup raised shares of Marathon Oil from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, December 21st. Seven research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have given a buy rating to the company. Marathon Oil currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $23.91.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. CoreCommodity Management LLC increased its stake in Marathon Oil by 5.3% during the 4th quarter. CoreCommodity Management LLC now owns 12,719 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $182,000 after buying an additional 644 shares during the period. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. grew its holdings in Marathon Oil by 15.7% during the 4th quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 4,945 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $71,000 after acquiring an additional 671 shares in the last quarter. InterOcean Capital LLC grew its holdings in Marathon Oil by 7.4% during the 4th quarter. InterOcean Capital LLC now owns 10,863 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $156,000 after acquiring an additional 747 shares in the last quarter. Gateway Investment Advisers LLC grew its holdings in Marathon Oil by 1.9% during the 4th quarter. Gateway Investment Advisers LLC now owns 42,271 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $606,000 after acquiring an additional 787 shares in the last quarter. Finally, D.A. Davidson & CO. grew its holdings in Marathon Oil by 0.6% during the 4th quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 160,752 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $2,305,000 after acquiring an additional 907 shares in the last quarter. 79.75% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Marathon Oil

Marathon Oil Corp. engages in the exploration, production, and marketing of liquid hydrocarbons and natural gas. It operates through the following two segments: United States (U. S.) and International. The U. S. segment engages in oil and gas exploration, development and production activities in the U.S.

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