5 Things Occidental Petroleum Management Wants You to Know

Occidental is ramping up production, thanks to its prime asset in the Permian Basin. Here are a few things management wants investors to keep in mind going forward.

Sep 2, 2014 at 3:29PM

There's an oil and gas boom taking place in the United States, and Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) will be right in the thick of it for a long time to come. That's been the consistent message out of the company for several quarters now, and it has been thoroughly reiterated in company earnings reports and investor presentations.

That was once again the core message, when Occidental Petroleum management discussed its most recent quarterly performance with analysts. Here are a few of the most important things Occidental Petroleum had to say in its last conference call.

Domestic oil production leads the way

For the fourth consecutive quarter, we continued our strong domestic oil production growth with increases coming from both our Permian and California assets. -- Chris Stavros, Chief Financial Officer

Occidental has made U.S.-based oil production a huge focal point in recent years, and for a very obvious reason. Oil production in the United States is really ramping up, and it has recently reached levels not seen in decades. Occidental is benefiting hugely from this. Its domestic oil production grew 8% last quarter to 278,000 barrels per day, which set a new quarterly record. According to the company, it's the largest operator and largest producer of oil in the Permian Basin, one of the highest-producing oil fields in the country.

Occidental's premier assets pay off

Our area focus will consist of a significant and leading position in the Permian Basin. -- Steve Chazen, President and Chief Executive Officer

Speaking of the Permian Basin, Occidental's presence there is impressive and should contribute heavily to the company's future growth. Management's forecast calls for annual production growth to easily exceed 20% per year over the next several year, thanks in large part to the company's effective horizontal drilling program. Profitability will be boosted even further due to additional efficiencies, driven by lower drilling and well costs. This will help expand margins.

Future growth plan intact

For the third quarter, excluding Hugoton, we expect our domestic oil production to grow 6,000 and 8,000 barrels per day sequentially, roughly 10% on an annualized basis. -- Stavros

This demonstrates Occidental's intent to ramp up production. This is an ambitious forecast that is higher than many of its competitors. For example, ConocoPhillips maintains a long-term production forecast of just 3%-5% growth. Even better, Occidental management states that its rate of domestic oil production growth will actually accelerate over time.

Watch for changes in oil prices

Our second quarter 2014 worldwide realized oil prices of $100.38 per barrel improved slightly compared to the first quarter realizations of $99 a barrel. -- Stavros

Oil prices are a major consideration for exploration and production companies such as Occidental Petroleum. Occidental is highly sensitive to the price of oil, and it's important to note that oil prices have declined since last quarter. West Texas Intermediate is now around $95 per barrel, and management states that earnings before taxes fluctuate by $37 million for every $1 per barrel change in oil prices. If the downtrend in oil prices continues, Occidental could have a disappointment in store.

Actions taken to enhance shareholder value

We continue to make progress in the plant spin-off of the California Company. -- Chazen

Another important note for investors to keep in mind is the planned spinoff of Occidental's California operations. Management believes its large California business will succeed as a stand-alone entity. Companies often pursue spinoffs when they feel a higher-growing segment isn't getting enough credit, and can secure a higher valuation multiple on its own. Indeed, the company's California unit is impressive, as its oil production increased 10% last quarter. That segment generated $1.2 billion in operating cash flow through the first six months. In addition, the company will pursue $6 billion in debt financing, the proceeds of which will be a tax-free dividend to Occidental, so it's clear that the parent company will benefit as well.

Occidental Petroleum is firing on all cylinders right now, thanks to the success of the Permian Basin. Going forward, production growth should remain strong, and margins will be helped by cost efficiencies. These are solid catalysts for investors, and so is the looming spinoff of the company's highly productive California business. One item investors should be concerned with is the price of oil, which does have the potential to squeeze profits. All in all, the future looks extremely bright for Occidental Petroleum.

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Bob Ciura has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.

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