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

Murphy USA Inc. earned $124.8 million in the fourth quarter -- aided by a deferred tax benefit of $89 million -- making a profit almost three times the $43.8 million it earned in the same period of 2016, the El Dorado-based company said Wednesday.

That equated to earnings per share of $3.58, up from $1.14 in 2016's fourth quarter.

The retail gas station chain beat the average estimate of $1.23 earnings per share projected by seven analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Shares of Murphy USA rose 21 cents to close Wednesday at $85.31 in trading on the Nasdaq exchange. Murphy USA released its fourth-quarter report after the market closed Wednesday.

"The business was resilient against continued headwinds, challenging macroeconomic conditions and especially in the first quarter, regulatory uncertainty that resulted in a change to our [financial] guidance [for 2017]," said Andrew Clyde, Murphy USA's chief executive officer.

The $89 million tax benefit came because of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

That reduction in the tax rate "will provide continued tangible benefits into 2018," Clyde said.

Murphy USA, a spinoff from Murphy Oil Corp., had net income of $245.3 million in 2017, up from $221.5 million in 2016. For the year, Murphy USA had total revenue of $12.8 billion, up from $11.6 billion in 2016.

Murphy opened 23 stores in the fourth quarter last year, in addition to four raze-and-rebuild locations. The company had 1,446 stores on Dec. 31, including 288 Murphy Express sites. The majority of Murphy USA's sites are near Walmart stores.

"Although challenges and regulatory uncertainty persist, Murphy USA has repeatedly proven its resilience to external factors and its ability to add value to its business," Clyde said.

Murphy USA expects to add as many as 30 new stores this year and also to raze and rebuild as many as 25 stores.

Murphy USA's management will hold a conference call at 10 a.m. today to discuss fourth-quarter results. The call may be accessed by dialing (844) 613-1037 and providing identification number 5467-727.

Business on 02/01/2018

Print Headline: Murphy USA profit soars in 4Q; tax law's help noted

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