Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Monday morning. The brokerage currently has $21.00 target price on the oil and gas producer’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Marathon Oil is a leading energy firm with a large and geographically-diverse reserve base and solid project pipeline. Shares of Marathon Oil have rallied over 62% in the last six months, outperforming the broader industry's gain of 30%. The company has successfully positioned itself into the Delaware Basin and STACK/SCOOP resource plays while exiting the oil sands and conventional assets with limited upside. Driven by the robust performance in the last quarter, MRO raised its production guidance for 2017 to 350,000-360,000 BOE/d. Additionally, the company possesses a healthy balance sheet, which helps it to capitalize on investment opportunities. Marathon Oil displays a strong earnings surprise history on robust growth momentum and strong execution. The company is also witnessing surging earning estimates revisions lately. All these factors form the basis of our bullish stance on the prospects of the stock.”

A number of other analysts have also recently commented on MRO. Piper Jaffray Companies reiterated a buy rating on shares of Marathon Oil in a research report on Thursday, September 28th. Scotiabank set a $19.00 price objective on Marathon Oil and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 4th. Jefferies Group reiterated a hold rating and set a $12.00 price objective on shares of Marathon Oil in a research report on Friday, October 6th. Stifel Nicolaus set a $10.00 price objective on Marathon Oil and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada set a $16.00 price objective on Marathon Oil and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $17.08.

Shares of Marathon Oil (MRO) traded down $0.15 during trading hours on Monday, hitting $18.69. The stock had a trading volume of 10,145,101 shares, compared to its average volume of 11,606,850. The company has a market capitalization of $15,790.00, a P/E ratio of -7.30, a P/E/G ratio of 15.56 and a beta of 2.38. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.55, a quick ratio of 2.02 and a current ratio of 2.09. Marathon Oil has a 1 year low of $10.55 and a 1 year high of $19.04.

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The oil and gas producer reported ($0.08) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.14) by $0.06. The firm had revenue of $1.25 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.04 billion. Marathon Oil had a negative return on equity of 3.02% and a negative net margin of 148.07%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 26.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted ($0.23) earnings per share. sell-side analysts expect that Marathon Oil will post -0.31 EPS for the current year.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the business. Sentry Investment Management LLC increased its position in Marathon Oil by 1.1% in the second quarter. Sentry Investment Management LLC now owns 66,441 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $787,000 after buying an additional 702 shares in the last quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB grew its position in shares of Marathon Oil by 2.7% during the second quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 45,027 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $534,000 after purchasing an additional 1,188 shares in the last quarter. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. grew its position in shares of Marathon Oil by 4.5% during the second quarter. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. now owns 33,154 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $396,000 after purchasing an additional 1,434 shares in the last quarter. Glenview Trust Co grew its position in shares of Marathon Oil by 13.5% during the second quarter. Glenview Trust Co now owns 13,044 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $155,000 after purchasing an additional 1,550 shares in the last quarter. Finally, 1st Global Advisors Inc. grew its position in shares of Marathon Oil by 3.3% during the second quarter. 1st Global Advisors Inc. now owns 52,744 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock worth $625,000 after purchasing an additional 1,686 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 80.50% of the company’s stock.

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About Marathon Oil

Marathon Oil Corporation is an exploration and production (E&P) company. The Company operates through three segments: North America E&P, International E&P and Oil Sands Mining. The North America E&P segment explores for, produces and markets crude oil and condensate, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and natural gas in North America.

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