Occidental Petroleum Finally Has Some Great News for Investors

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Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) made headlines this 7 days by disclosing that it would fork out an upcoming dividend to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B) in cash as an alternative of stock. That change in how it pays Berkshire’s preferred inventory financial investment implies that the corporation has a ton extra self esteem in its equilibrium sheet and liquidity than it did earlier in the 12 months when it opted to dilute current investors’ stake by issuing shares to Buffett’s enterprise. 

A handful of notable elements enabled the oil company to revert to having to pay this dividend in money. Although that definitely would make it seem like the business is heading in the right route, it nevertheless has a good deal of function to do just before its equilibrium sheet is back on solid floor.

An oil pump and barrel on top of money.

Picture resource: Getty Illustrations or photos.

Getting the self confidence to pay in income

Just one of the causes Occidental Petroleum was capable to pay back Berkshire in money this quarter is that the oil marketplace has stabilized, which presents Occidental much more self confidence in its around-term money flows. On the next-quarter conference connect with, CEO Vicki Hollub stated, “Our economic place has notably improved as we are at present cost-free money flow-optimistic and be expecting to generate significant free of charge dollars flow in excess of the remainder of this 12 months many thanks to the relentless attempts of our groups as nicely as the average recovery in commodity rates.” Though oil costs have wobbled a little bit due to the fact she manufactured these feedback, they were being recently close to $40 a barrel, properly earlier mentioned Occidental’s 2020 split-even degree in the low $30s just after it slashed funds shelling out and its dividend previously this yr. 

Meanwhile, the firm’s equilibrium sheet is on observe to get a shot in the arm right after it agreed to market tens of millions of acres of land in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah for $1.33 billion in a transaction that really should close next quarter. That sale puts the enterprise on speed with its concentrate on to offer $2 billion in property this calendar year. 

At last, the corporation disclosed that holders of its 2036 zero-coupon senior notes only exercised their suitable to have the company repurchase $2 million of this debt in October alternatively of the complete $992 million. Since of that, the company experienced the flexibility to use its money to repay near-time period credit card debt maturities and Buffett’s dividend.  

Nonetheless a whole lot of debt weighing it down

Occidental Petroleum originally planned to promote among $10 billion and $15 billion of belongings to help pay back down the financial debt it took to obtain Anadarko. Having said that, oil price tag volatility and some other challenges have it falling perfectly small of that intention, so the firm pivoted towards pushing out its credit card debt maturities in hopes of shelling out them off with foreseeable future asset revenue and dollars movement.

It created very good progress on that aim before this yr by issuing $2 billion in superior-price credit card debt in June, which it utilized to redeem the bulk of the debt maturing in the 1st 50 % of future 12 months. The business built a related go in August by concurrently providing lengthier-term credit card debt to repurchase around-time period maturities. These refinancing pursuits have aided force out a considerable volume of Occidental’s around-term debt maturities, which will obtain it some valuable time. 

Even so, most of the company’s modern monetary moves did not minimize its over-all credit card debt load, which stood at $36 billion of prolonged-phrase debt at the conclude of the 2nd quarter, a monster amount for a $10 billion oil corporation by current market cap. As a result, it nevertheless has an tremendous job in advance to chip away at people borrowings. That will be tricky to do considering the fact that it requirements oil to ordinary at minimum $40 a barrel following 12 months to keep its present-day output level, which means it would not generate much too a great deal cost-free hard cash circulation until oil costs increase. Similarly, asset gross sales will continue being a tough sell considering the fact that quite a few rivals are also battling monetarily at the present pricing stage, leaving number of opportunity customers. 

Not as terrible as it was, but still a very long way to go

Occidental Petroleum’s self confidence in its economical scenario has improved more than enough that it truly is now spending Buffett’s dividend in income. Whilst which is a positive indicator, the firm just isn’t in the crystal clear because it still requires to whittle down its huge credit card debt load into a much more manageable volume. Which is not likely to be uncomplicated because oil selling prices remain weak, which will effect its capacity to produce free dollars and sell belongings, crucial factors of that system — so the threat stays that Occidental won’t survive if oil price ranges crash all over again.

This write-up signifies the impression of the writer, who may well disagree with the “official” suggestion position of a Motley Idiot top quality advisory company. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one particular of our very own — assists us all believe critically about investing and make choices that assist us turn into smarter, happier, and richer.

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