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Murphy USA, the El Dorado gasoline and convenience store chain, announced fourth-quarter net income of $47.6 million, or $1.54 per diluted share, on Wednesday evening.
The quarterly profit was off from $77.5 million in the same period a year earlier. Full-year income for 2019 was $154.8 million, down from $213.6 million in 2018.
Volume of gasoline sold was off 1.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018, while same-store fuel volumes were even further down, by 3.4%. In full-year numbers, however, retail gallons increased 3.4% to 4.4 billion gallons sold, up 1.2% on a same-store basis.
Ten new stores opened and 10 raze-and-build locations reopened, leaving Murphy USA’s year-end store count at 1,489. The company also repurchased 300,000 shares of common stock for $26.6 million, an average price of $88.73 per share. Murphy USA shares closed at $112.77, up about 80% over the past three years.
“Our Q4 results rounded out an exceptional 2019,” company President and CEO Andrew Clyde said in a statement. He cited strategic initiatives that drove up per-store fuel volumes, as well as “record merchandise contribution and better new store performance while maintaining our cost leadership position.” He said the company expects “earnings growth and other share price drivers that we control to continue as we enter 2020 with momentum, along with a strong balance sheet and leadership team.”
A company news release offered several reasons for the bottom line. “Net income and earnings per share in Q4 were below the prior year levels due mainly to lower all-in fuel contribution in the current year,” the company said. “Net income for the current year was less than the prior year due to the receipt in 2018 of the settlement of damages of $50.4 million (pretax) incurred in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, combined with the 2019 loss on early debt extinguishment of $14.8 million (pretax), higher operating expenses and increased depreciation.”
The company will host a conference call at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss the results. The conference call number is 1 (844) 613-1037; the passcode is 5672799.