It looks as if the oil and gas producers are going to be a somewhat mixed bag for the remainder of earnings season. As such, I'm considering putting two boxes on my office floor and labeling one "strong" and the other "soggy."

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to plop the earnings report of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) into the latter box. Oh, sure, the company's reported earnings were up 64%, to $1.4 billion from last year's $860 million. So far, so good. But that big improvement really came from one-time items, not from improving operations. In reality, about $419 million of this year's figure resulted from asset sales, while results for the second quarter of 2006 were trimmed by $347 million, primarily as a result of asset writedowns.

Among the items included in this year's one-time items were a $181 million gain from Oxy's sale of 18.6 million shares of Lyondell Chemical (NYSE:LYO) stock, a $116 million gain from the sale to BP (NYSE:BP) of Pakistan assets, and a $107 million gain from the swap of Horn Mountain assets with BP. Removing the one-time items from both years gives us a second-quarter 2007 per-share net of $1.18, down 15% from last year.

But because of my new penchant for exposing Fools to the differences that make each producing company an individual entity, I'd like to conduct a one-paragraph tour of what makes up Oxy. As a producing company, it has plays in several U.S. onshore producing horizons, including the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico and the Hugoton field of Kansas and Oklahoma. It's unusually active in several parts of Latin America, and is busy in Qatar, Yemen, Oman, and Libya. It also conducts chemical operations that accounted for about 28% of the most recent quarter's revenues.

But in attempting to determine the attractiveness of Oxy's shares, I'm taken by a couple of numbers. Specifically, while the company's P/E is essentially in line with its peers, as is its return on equity, its relative debt level is lower than most. And its operating margin is up there with or near the likes of smaller and theoretically more nimble independent producers Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) and EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG).

It also hasn't escaped my practiced eye that the company is a core holding of respected energy seer T. Boone Pickens. All things considered, Occidental is a company I'm inclined to keep firmly in my sights.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith describes himself as something of a kid in a candy store amid a host of attractive energy companies -- which he can't buy because he continues to write about them for Fools. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your communiques. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.