Here's What Everyone Missed in Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s Earnings

Occidental Petroleum beat estimates but the market didn’t seem to care. That’s because investors are missing the big picture.

May 6, 2014 at 12:01PM
 Texas Oil Well Apache

Photo credit: Flickr/Roy Luck

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) recently reported fairly decent first-quarter results. The company delivered net income of $1.4 billion, or $1.75 per share. That actually beat analysts' estimates by a nickel. However, investors rewarded the company's beat with a stagnant stock price.

That's unfortunate as investors clearly missed the fact that the company's strategic initiatives are about to give its earnings per share a big boost. That plan could see the company take out as much as 12% of its share count. On top of that Occidental Petroleum is about to wrap up some of its major capital projects, which is about to add more than a billion dollars to its cash flow. Suffice it to say, investors are pretty much ignoring this future, which could lead to big upside in the company's stock.

Buyback is about to get bigger
Occidental Petroleum bought back 10.5 million shares last quarter spending about $945 million. So far the company has bought back 20 million shares as its strategic initiative plan is turning non-core assets into cash that the company is using to buy back stock. One of the assets it sold as part of this plan was 25% of its interest in Plains GP Holdings (NYSE:PAGP). The company picked up pre-tax proceeds of $1.4 billion, which has funded a good portion of its share repurchases.

However, the company's monetization is just beginning. Occidental Petroleum just completed the sale of its Hugoton asset for pre-tax proceeds of $1.3 billion. Those funds, along with excess cash on the balance sheet are expected to fund the repurchase of the 26.5 million shares remaining on the current buyback plan.

In addition to that the company is planning to sell down its remaining interest in Plains GP Holdings. At current market prices that interest in Plains GP Holdings is worth about $4 billion. The company expects to sell this down and use the cash to buy back another 25 million shares. Finally, the company is planning to use $5 billion in debt from the separation of its California business to fund another 40-50 million share buyback. Add it all up and Occidental Petroleum sees its share count falling by up to 100 million shares, which is 12% of its currently outstanding shares as the following slide shows.

Occidental Petroleum Buyback

Source: Occidental Petroleum Investor Presentation (Link opens a PDF)

As that slide noted, this plan doesn't include the sale of a portion of its assets in the Middle East and North Africa. Nor does it include that potential monetization of the 20% of its California business that the company is likely to sell after it spins 80% of the business off to investors later this year. Further, the company has other assets that could be sold including its Piceance assets, which would generate additional cash that could be used to buy back more stock. Needless to say Occidental Petroleum is likely to continue to buy back a meaningful amount of stock over the next year, which has the potential to provide an uplift to its earnings per share.

Reversing the cash flow drain
The other big driver for Occidental is that three of its big long lead-time capital projects are coming online this year. The first project is a new chlor-alkali plant that started production in March. That will be followed by the BridgeTex Pipeline joint venture with Magellan Midstream Partners (NYSE:MMP) that is expected to come online in the third quarter,while the Al Hosn Gas Project in the United Arab Emirates is expected to come online by the end of the year.

These are really big projects. In fact, the BridgeTex Pipeline project was the largest capital project in Magellan Midstream Partners' history. Both companies spent $600 million for their 50% share of the project's costs. However, the 300,000 barrels per day pipeline will be an important one for the Permian Basin region, where Occidental Petroleum is a major producer, as it will transport oil from there to Houston. Meanwhile, it will have significant financial benefits with Magellan Midstream expecting it generate an eight times EBITDA multiple from the currently committed volumes, with upside as additional shippers sign on to the project.

Collectively these projects represented $1.32 billion in capital spending for Occidental Petroleum last year. However, beginning next year the projects should generate about $700 million in cash flow. That's more than enough to offset the cash flow loss of $900 million from spinning off its California Resources segment. In fact, it represents a collective $1.1 billion gain in cash flow as the following slide notes.

Occidental Petroleum Cash

Source: Occidental Petroleum Investor Presentation

Investor takeaway
Occidental Petroleum is about to see a surge of earnings growth. The combination of the company's stock buyback and its organic growth projects aren't yet being fully realized by investors. Because of that the company looks like a very compelling value right now.

The IRS wants you to make money in energy
Occidental Petroleum could make you a tidy profit as it's earnings grow. However, its companies like Magellan Midstream that are the ones taking advantage of a small IRS "loophole" that's really lining the pockets of its investors with cash. To learn how Magellan Midstream can make you a lot of money check out our special report "The IRS Is Daring You To Make This Energy Investment." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P.. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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