Occidental rides oil wave to 46% profit gain

Occidental Petroleum Corp. rode a wave of higher oil prices to one of the best quarterly earnings performances since 2008.

The Westwood company said Thursday that it earned $1.55 billion in the first quarter, or $1.90 a share, up nearly 46% from the same period last year. Revenue rose more than 24% to $5.73 billion.

Also Thursday, Exxon Mobil Corp. posted first-quarter net income of $10.65 billion, up 69%. Royal Dutch Shell reported $8.78 billion in first-quarter profit, up 60%.

Occidental said it got $92.14 a barrel for its oil during the first quarter of 2011, compared with $74.09 per barrel for the first quarter of 2010.

"The company is in very good shape," said Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Co. "Their only negative was a loss of production in Libya related to the unrest there."

Despite the Libyan production loss, Occidental increased daily oil and gas production to 730,000 barrels, compared with 701,000 barrels in year-earlier quarter.

Occidental's chemical business showed a strong improvement from higher exports, with the profit in that segment rising to $219 million from $30 million a year ago.

"These results are among the best ever reported for the chemical segment's first quarter of operations, which historically is a weak quarter due to seasonal factors," said Occidental President Stephen I. Chazen, who will take over as chief executive at next week's annual meeting.

Occidental rose $2.13, or 2.1%, to $105.13, near its 52-week high of $107.56.


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