Marathon Petroleum Stock Sinks on First-Quarter Surprise, Merger News

Analyst downgrades and price-target cuts could be on the horizon for MPC stock

by Emma Duncan

Published on May 8, 2019 at 10:41 AM

Shares of Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC) are tanking this morning, last seen down 3.9% at $57.13, after the company revealed a surprise first-quarter loss due to Canadian fuel costs, while also sharing plans for a $9 billion merger of its midstream units. Marathon also scrapped plans to increase coking capacity at its Garyville, La., refinery. Today's negative activity is just more of the same for MPC stock, which is now in the red year-to-date, and set for its lowest close of 2019.

Several options traders are likely kicking rocks today. Call buyers were crowding the equity ahead of earnings, per MPC's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 9.87 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which stands in the lofty 96th annual percentile. In other words, calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster-than-usual clip the past two weeks.

Echoing this sentiment, MPC sports a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.38, indicating that call open interest easily surpasses put open interest among options expiring within the next three months. This SOIR is in the 2nd annual percentile, suggesting short-term options traders have rarely been more call-biased in the past year.

While analysts have yet to react to today's news, the petroleum stock looks to be well overdue for downgrades, as all 13 covering brokerage firms sport "strong buy" recommendations. Plus, the stock's average 12-month price target of $88.80 comes in at a 54% premium to current levels, meaning a round of price-target cuts may also be in the stock's near future.


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