Occidental Quarterly Earnings Rise as Chazen Pursues Breakup

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY), the biggest oil producer in Texas, said fourth-quarter profit rose as Chief Executive Officer Stephen I. Chazen pursues a breakup after a shareholder revolt last year.

Net income increased to $1.6 billion, or $2.04 a share, from $336 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, Los Angeles-based Occidental said in a statement on Business Wire today. Per-share profit excluding one-time items was $1.72, higher than the $1.67 average of 22 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chazen is seeking to turn around Occidental, whose shares have fallen 24 percent from a May 2011 high, by selling oil and natural gas properties from the Middle East to North Dakota in order to focus on the most profitable U.S. businesses. The CEO has said he plans to announce any potential asset sales or restructuring by the end of the year when he’s expected to step down.

“His legacy is to shrink and restructure the business,” Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview before earnings were released. “Occidental and a number of other companies, in today’s environment, had gotten a little too far-flung.”

Shareholders ousted longtime Chairman Ray Irani in May after the board announced it would seek a replacement for Chazen.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, averaged $109.35 a barrel in the October-to-December period, just 78 cents less than the same period last year. The average price of natural gas futures traded in New York rose 8.7 percent from a year earlier to $3.854 per million British thermal units.

Earnings were announced before regular trading began in U.S. markets. Occidental dropped 0.6 percent to $87.82 yesterday in New York. The shares, which have 19 buy ratings and nine holds from analysts, have fallen 7.7 percent this year.

Occidental is the biggest oil producer in Texas, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Carroll in Chicago at jcarroll8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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