Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a research note published on Tuesday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $81.00 price objective on the oil and gas company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Ahead of its Q4 earnings release, we are upgrading our investment thesis on Marathon Petroleum to a 'Strong Buy'. We like MPC for its scale advantage, impressive asset quality and extensive midstream/retail network. We believe management’s steady dividend increases and active share repurchase program highlights the company’s commitment to return more value to shareholders. In particular, MPC’s recent plan to drop down assets worth $8.1 billion to its midstream partnership MPLX will boost its financials with visible cash flows to fuel buybacks and higher dividends. We also welcome MPC's decision not to spin off its Speedway convenience store business. We believe that the retail assets will help the company generate long-term returns for shareholders due to healthy merchandise margins. Consequently, we think MPC offers substantial upside potential from the current price levels.”

Other research analysts have also issued research reports about the stock. Cowen reiterated a buy rating on shares of Marathon Petroleum in a report on Tuesday, November 14th. Citigroup raised their price objective on shares of Marathon Petroleum from $67.00 to $69.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, October 18th. Edward Jones upgraded shares of Marathon Petroleum from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Friday, October 6th. Scotiabank reiterated a hold rating and issued a $75.00 price objective on shares of Marathon Petroleum in a report on Wednesday, January 10th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group lowered shares of Marathon Petroleum from a buy rating to a neutral rating and set a $63.00 price objective for the company. in a report on Tuesday, October 3rd. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have given a buy rating and two have given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $70.33.

Shares of Marathon Petroleum (MPC) traded up $1.20 during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $71.98. 3,470,000 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 3,670,000. The company has a market cap of $35,160.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.49, a PEG ratio of 1.51 and a beta of 1.62. Marathon Petroleum has a 1-year low of $46.88 and a 1-year high of $72.48. The company has a current ratio of 1.52, a quick ratio of 0.80 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.64.

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The oil and gas company reported $1.77 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.48 by $0.29. The business had revenue of $19.36 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $19.38 billion. Marathon Petroleum had a net margin of 2.35% and a return on equity of 8.52%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 17.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $0.58 EPS. analysts predict that Marathon Petroleum will post 3.76 EPS for the current year.

In other Marathon Petroleum news, insider Thomas M. Kelley sold 35,604 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.75, for a total transaction of $2,305,359.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP Raymond L. Brooks sold 13,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.26, for a total transaction of $809,380.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 32,205 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,005,083.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 149,854 shares of company stock valued at $9,482,177 in the last three months. Insiders own 1.05% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Bahl & Gaynor Inc. grew its position in shares of Marathon Petroleum by 3.3% during the 2nd quarter. Bahl & Gaynor Inc. now owns 6,317 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock worth $318,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the period. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC grew its position in shares of Marathon Petroleum by 7.3% during the 2nd quarter. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC now owns 2,937 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock worth $156,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the period. Wilbanks Smith & Thomas Asset Management LLC grew its position in shares of Marathon Petroleum by 6.1% during the 2nd quarter. Wilbanks Smith & Thomas Asset Management LLC now owns 4,413 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock worth $231,000 after buying an additional 252 shares during the period. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans grew its position in shares of Marathon Petroleum by 1.4% during the 2nd quarter. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans now owns 19,748 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock worth $1,033,000 after buying an additional 280 shares during the period. Finally, Advisory Services Network LLC grew its position in shares of Marathon Petroleum by 6.9% during the 2nd quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC now owns 7,381 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock worth $386,000 after buying an additional 477 shares during the period. 80.61% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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About Marathon Petroleum

Marathon Petroleum Corporation is engaged in refining, marketing, retail and transportation businesses in the United States and the largest east of the Mississippi. The Company operates through three segments: Refining & Marketing; Speedway; and Midstream. The Refining & Marketing segment refines crude oil and other feedstocks at the Company’s seven refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest regions of the United States.

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