Occidental Petroleum Earnings Call Nuggets: Sequential Earnings Decline and Run Rate

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Sequential Earnings Decline

Doug Terreson – ISI Group: Congratulations on your results everybody.

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Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: Thank you. The guys — the people in the Company did a great job.

Doug Terreson – ISI Group: So, my question regards the sequential decline in earnings of $450 million, which was highlighted I think on Slide 3 and specifically whether you can provide any additional insight into the component, which is likely to be transitory meaning some of the elements were identified, but how much is sequential decline related to factors that are not normally recurring like maintenance and pipeline disruptions and lifting variances et cetera?

Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: I think Cynthia has that variance, so let her answer that.

Cynthia Walker – EVP and CFO: Really the only component of the quarter-over-quarter decline that we expect to be recurring is the Oman contract impact, which is about $50 million of the $450 million. The rest of it all relates to timing of liftings, as well as and cutter turnaround which you mentioned cutters turnarounds and the pipeline disruptions in Colombia.

Run Rate

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: I’ve a couple if I may Steve. On the cost, Steve, if I look at the costs on the U.S., you obviously broke that out for us and I take your commentary about the total Company, that looks to me at least that the international costs were up a couple of maybe $2 to $3 a barrel.

Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: That’s right.

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: So I’m wondering so that sounds about right. So basically, when the production comes back on in the second quarter, does that mean your run rate is now below $13? And if you could help us with where you think the stretch goal gets to on your operating cost, and I’ve got a follow-up please.

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Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: We’ll let Cynthia give you the first part and I’ll answer the second part. So where does that put our run rate?

Cynthia Walker – EVP and CFO: Yeah. In the second quarter, there will be some other factors likely offsetting things, but we wouldn’t expect to get substantially below the levels that we are currently. We won’t be below $13 a barrel in the second quarter. Some of the activity that we didn’t do in the first quarter will come into the second quarter.

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: In terms of stretch goals?

Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: We expect that the U.S. business – let me maybe simplify a little bit for you. We expect the U.S. to – we’re going to be cautious on the operating cost here to make sure we’re not affecting safety and production. So, we expect those costs continue to go down, but obviously not as quickly as it did in this quarter. But the international costs will come back into line. They were up this past quarter, but we think they’ll be down next quarter. And by putting money into the – what we’ve done – the turnarounds will increase the reliability and we should actually do better on a gross basis or maybe some turnaround costs and stuff that’ll roll through I think was what Cynthia was referring to. The fundamental numbers will be lower. Again, there might be some additional turnarounds out in the Middle East, but in the U.S., Sandy, you want to comment on the Middle East?

Edward A. Lowe – VP, President, Oxy Oil & Gas, International Production: In Qatar, we are actually producing at record levels since the past few years 118,000-119,000 gross and the extra money we spent on the turnaround that we got much higher reliability. We have records in Oman right now of 235,000 barrels a day gross and we actually are reducing OpEx per barrel there still paying attention to production reliability and safety issues.

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Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Steve, my follow up and I hope you are going to forgive me for this one ahead of time. My question relates to you – in terms of your intention. When we followed in the past you’ve always stated that you saw yourself being in position for quite a while in executing a strategy that ultimately took you towards 1 million barrels a day. Should we rule out the possibility of you staying around a bit longer as the Board, for example, (indiscernible) and what is your strategic vision for the Company longer-term?

Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: I am not going to answer the first question. That’s really outside the purview of what we want to talk about. On the strategy issue the Company as we get – the Company is really executing well. Every day I am sort of happy to talk about the operations. I think the Company is doing really well. I think we’ll continue to grow nicely. We have little bumps in the road in the quarter, but fundamentally I really couldn’t be happier about the progress we are making as a company. The million barrels a day, I think, is a reasonable objective. What we are going to do from call-to-call is, Bill got to talk this time, we’ll let somebody else talk next quarter and maybe we’ll talk about California next quarter and I have (Vicki) come and talk. So, we’ll try to give you more detail one call at a time rather than try to flood you with it. So, I think you’ll see that the strategy of building a large domestic business together with a highly profitable international business will work for us. So, I think the vision right now is sort of that one. So, as you want to ask the same question in other way.

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Well, I’m just saying, would you ever see that there has been a lot of speculation about structural changes whether it was separating one part or another whether it would be MLPs or whether it would be California getting split off. Is that something that you are going to enter into the discussion right now or is it just not on the table?

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Stephen I. Chazen – President and CEO: I think we always are looking for ways to improve the return to the shareholders, and I think we and I mean everybody in the company is committed to that and whatever actions, if we can find actions that are meaningful and are accretive to value, we’ll do those things.

A Closer Look: Occidental Petroleum Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

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