Speedway Spinoff Buzz Has Marathon Stock Popping

Analysts are incredibly bullish on Marathon

by Lillian Currens

Published on Jan 31, 2020 at 9:15 AM

Bloomberg is reporting that Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC) is exploring the sale of its Speedway unit, alongside an IPO, and that has shares of the oil refining specialist soaring in pre-market trading. This comes after an announcement in October that the company would spin off its gas and convenience store business as an independent firm, following a demand from hedge fund Elliott that Marathon be split into three parts. At last check, MPC is up 3% before the open after yesterday's close at $54.35. 

The move has Marathon set to open north of its 10-day moving average, which has served as recent pressure on the charts. While MPC has certainly taken a breather since its annual high of $69.65 in late October, the stock has managed to find its footing at the $52 level -- a region that has captured one other pullback in the past year. In the past 12 months, however, the stock is down roughly 17%. 

Most analysts are still quite confident in MPC with 11 of the 13 in coverage calling it a "buy" or better, with not a single "sell" to be seen. What's more, the consensus 12-month target price sits at $78.20 -- a hefty 43.9% premium to last night's close. 

On the other hand, Marathon sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.89 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which sits in the 91st percentile of its annual range. This suggests that while long calls are still outnumbering long puts on an overall basis, these bearish bets have rarely been more popular in the past year. 


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