HOUSTON, Oct. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO) announced today that the Company's board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share on the Company's common stock, compared to the previous quarterly dividend of 21 cents per share. The dividend is payable on Dec. 10, 2015, to stockholders of record on Nov. 18, 2015.
Lee M. Tillman, Marathon Oil President and CEO, commented on the Board's decision to adjust the dividend saying, "We believe the revised dividend appropriately addresses the uncertainty of a lower for longer commodity price environment. The decision aligns with our priority of maintaining a strong balance sheet through the cycle and provides us additional capital flexibility to support growth from our deep inventory of investment opportunities in the U.S. resource plays when commodity prices improve."
The adjustment to the dividend is expected to increase annual free cash flow by more than $425 million. At Sept. 30, the Company had $5.4 billion in liquidity, including $2.4 billion in cash and short-term investments, $1 billion of which will be used to retire maturing debt in November 2015.
"We've made great strides so far this year focusing on those elements of the business that we control by reducing activity levels and capturing capital efficiencies, as well as lowering production expenses and G&A costs," Tillman said. "The Company also continues to make progress advancing its plan to divest at least $500 million of non-core assets, consistent with our ongoing portfolio management strategy."
Addressing the topic of capital investment, Tillman added, "Our 2015 capital, investment and exploration program is now expected to be reduced by $200 million, to $3.1 billion. In addition, based on our current outlook and preliminary plan discussions, we would anticipate a total Company 2016 capital, investment and exploration program of up to $2.2 billion which would give us the flexibility to deliver 2016 annual average production in the U.S. resource plays flat to 2015 exit rate." The Company expects its 2016 budget to be approved by the Board of Directors later this year.
The decision to adjust the dividend is not an indication of Marathon Oil's current financial performance including our third quarter 2015 results, which will be released Nov. 4, and are expected to be above current consensus expectations for earnings per share on an adjusted basis, excluding the impact of certain items not typically represented in analysts' estimates and that would otherwise affect comparability of results. Those adjustments primarily include certain non-cash charges comprised largely of losses and asset impairments resulting from lower forecasted commodity prices and changes in the Company's conventional exploration strategy.
Marathon Oil Corporation is a global exploration and production company. Based in Houston, Texas, the Company had net proved reserves at the end of 2014 of 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent in North America, Europe and Africa. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.marathonoil.com.
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This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements other than statements of historical fact that give current expectations or forecasts of future events, including, but not limited to: the Company's operational, financial and growth strategies, including debt repayment, cost management and non-core asset sales; the Company's ability to successfully effect those strategies and the expected timing and results thereof; the Company's financial and operational outlook, and ability to fulfill that outlook; the Company's declared dividend and the expected benefits thereof; expectations regarding future economic and market conditions and their effects on the Company; the Company's 2015 and 2016 capital, investment and exploration programs, planned reductions and Board approval; the Company's financial position, liquidity and capital resources; expected third quarter 2015 results; and production guidance and the drivers thereof.
While the Company believes its assumptions concerning future events are reasonable, a number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including, but not limited to: conditions in the oil and gas industry, including supply/demand levels and the resulting impact on price; changes in expected reserve or production levels; changes in political or economic conditions in key operating markets, including international markets; capital available for exploration and development; well production timing; availability of drilling rigs, materials and labor; difficulty in obtaining necessary approvals and permits; non-performance by third parties of contractual obligations; unforeseen hazards such as weather conditions, acts of war or terrorism and the governmental or military response thereto; cyber-attacks; changes in safety, health, environmental and other regulations; other geological, operating and economic considerations; and the risk factors, forward-looking statements and challenges and uncertainties described in the Company's 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other public filings and press releases, available at www.marathonoil.com. The Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Media Relations Contacts: Lee Warren: 713-296-4103 Lisa Singhania: 713-296-4101 Investor Relations Contacts: Chris Phillips: 713-296-3213 Zach Dailey: 713-296-4140