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First quarter Murphy Oil profits decline

Murphy Oil Corp. profits declined during the first quarter as higher income from refining and marketing operations were offset by less from exploration and production.

Murphy Oil Corp. profits declined during the first quarter as higher income from refining and marketing operations were offset by less from exploration and production.

The company's net income of $110.6 million, or 58 cents per diluted share, compared with $116 million, 61 cents per diluted share, during the same quarter of 2006.

Improved refining and marketing results reflected income from the Meraux, La., refinery, which was closed by Hurricane Katrina damage during the first quarter a year ago. Income was $35.7 million compared with a $35.6 million loss through March 31, 2006. The Superior refinery had improved quarterly margins in 2007 versus 2006.

Reduced exploration and production earnings reflected less oil and natural gas production and lower sales prices, the company said in a news release.

"Margins at the company's two U.S. refineries have been robust so far in April due to a combination of tight refining capacity, lower product inventories and strong fuel demand," President and CEO Claiborne P. Deming said in a prepared statement.

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He predicted second quarter earnings of between 75 cents and 95 cents per diluted share.

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