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Murphy USA announced third quarter profits of $69.2 million, up more than $24 million from the third quarter of 2018 and beating analyst expectations for the El Dorado-based company.

In a Thursday morning conference call, Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde discussed the company’s performance with a variety of financial analysts, calling the quarter “rewarding and fulfilling.”

“Murphy USA delivered, in my view, one of its best quarters since our 2013 spin as we demonstrated continued progress toward our longer-term goal of maximizing shareholder value through productivity improvements, high-performing new store growth, and balanced capital allocation,” Clyde said.

The company reported an increase in the total number of retail gallons sold and higher merchandise sales. Part of the merchandise sales bump was attributed to increased usage of the Murphy Drive Rewards (MDR) app, which Clyde said was something Murphy USA had its store associates focus on.

“… Having them focused on MDR was the top priority, and they knocked it out of the park,” he said. “Over 90% of MDR members say they learned about the program through their engagement with the sales associate.”

Murphy USA also repurchased 1.2 million common shares in Q3 for $109 million. The company plans on repurchasing $400 million in shares, a goal “accelerated,” according to Clyde, by a balance sheet refinanced in Q3.

“We’re going to be as savvy as we can, and try not to get too cute or too smart about our buyback,” he said. “But certainly, wanted to get out in front of the $400 million program the board authorized. And we’ll come back in February and report on what we did in Q4. But balance sheet — the capacity on the balance sheet allows us to do as much as we want, whenever we want to do that. That’s not a limiting factor.”

In a press release, the company noted that 21 stores are under construction — 11 are new stores, and 10 are kiosks that will be torn down and rebuilt into new, 1,400 square-foot stores. Murphy USA opened five new retail locations in Q3, bringing the store count to 1,479 — 1,160 are Murphy USA sites and 319 are Murphy Express sites.

Between Monday and Friday, Murphy USA shares rose from $92.68 to $113.57.

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