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story.lead_photo.caption Graphs showing Murphy USA Inc. third quarter information.

Murphy USA reported a third-quarter profit of $67.9 million, up from $45.5 million for the same quarter last year, the El Dorado company said Wednesday.

Earnings per share rose to $1.90 for the quarter, which ended in September, compared with $1.16 a year ago, the company said in an earnings report released after markets closed. Citing the work of six analysts, Zacks Investment Research had forecast per-share earnings of $1.34.

Revenue of $3.24 billion would have been higher, had it not been for hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which struck Texas and Florida in September, the company said.

Murphy USA has more than 1,420 gasoline and convenience stores in 26 states, mostly in the South and Southwest.

"Third quarter results were impacted by the severity and devastation ... yet the resilience of our people and business model was evident in the quarterly results," Andrew Clyde, Murphy USA's vice president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released with the earnings report.

"Our first priority was to help ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, who not only persevered during these crises, but remained eager to re-open stores for our customers as soon as possible," Clyde said.

The storms interrupted fuel supplies, drove gasoline prices higher and damaged stores, cutting down on per-store sales throughout September, and Clyde said business is starting to return to normal.

Murphy USA shares rose 93 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close Wednesday at $75.29.

Last year's third-quarter profit of $45.5 million came during what Clyde called a "challenging" period with rising crude prices and a pipeline rupture in Alabama that brought higher retail prices and shortages at gasoline pumps across several states. In the third quarter of 2015, the company reported a profit of $60.5 million.

Murphy USA said it opened 12 retail stores in the most recent quarter, not counting 10 "raze and rebuilds," since Sept. 30. Twenty-three more stores are under construction.

Total retail gallons sold declined by more than 5 percent from a year ago, but merchandise sales increased to $97.7 million.

The company bought back 1.3 million shares, for $85.7 million. Some $25 million in shares remain in the company's $500 million share-purchasing program.

Murphy USA will hold a conference call at 10 a.m. today to discuss the third-quarter results, at (844) 613-1037. The conference call access number is 93873089.

Business on 11/02/2017

Print Headline: Murphy gas chain tops 3Q forecasts

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