Marathon Petroleum sets buyback, may spin off assets

FINDLAY, Ohio – U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp. announced a stock repurchase of up to $2 billion and said it might spin off some assets, sending its shares up nearly 10 percent and overshadowing news of a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.

The company said on Wednesday that its board had approved a share buyback plan of up to $2 billion over two years and said it was looking at strategic alternatives for some of its midstream assets, including spinning them off into a master limited partnership.

The fourth-quarter net loss was $75 million, or 21 cents per share, compared with year-earlier net income of $230 million, or 64 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a loss of 6 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

During the quarter, the price between U.S. benchmark crude oil and European Brent crude narrowed, squeezing margins. U.S. crude oil prices averaged about $92.39 per barrel.

Total revenue and other income rose 11 percent to $19.44 billion. Analysts expected $15.06 billion.

Shares of the company, which was spun off from Marathon Oil Corp. last year, were up 9.9 percent at $41.99 in trading before the market opened.

Nasdaq approves $300 million share repurchase program

NEW YORK ― Nasdaq OMX Group said its board has approved a $300 million share repurchase program, as it looks to return excess capital to its shareholders.

The exchange operator said it will fund the repurchases from its existing cash balances.

In September, the Nasdaq stock market parent company had said it would set a plan to return capital to shareholders as it looks to take advantage of a relatively low share valuation and move on from its failed takeover bid earlier this year for rival NYSE Euronext .

Nasdaq also said it intends to prepay $109 million in debt in the fourth quarter, taking its total debt payments in quarter to $120 million.

The exchange operator has about $1.8 billion in debt outstanding, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Shares of the company closed at $25.07 on Tuesday on Nasdaq.