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Occidental profit rises on higher gas prices, increased crude output


LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Occidental Petroleum Corp. said first-quarter profit rose slightly on higher natural gas prices and increased crude production in the U.S.

Net income rose to $1.39 bn or $1.75 a share, from $1.36 bn, or $1.68, a year earlier, Los Angeles-based Occidental said in a statement. Per-share profit excluding one-time items was 5 cents higher than the $1.70 average of 24 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

CEO Stephen I. Chazen is pursuing a restructuring plan to turn around an 18% decline in its stock that began when he took over the top post in May 2011. Occidental plans to separate its California business to form a new company called California Resources Corp. by early next year. It’s also seeking to sell as much as a 40% stake in its operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, averaged about $108 a barrel in the January-to-March period, a 4.2% decline. The average price of natural gas futures traded in New York rose 36% from a year earlier to $4.72 per million British thermal units during the period.

Earnings were announced before regular trading began in U.S. markets. Occidental fell 0.6% to $94.44 in New York on May 2. The Los Angeles-based company, which has 19 buy ratings and 12 holds from analysts, has fallen 0.7% this year.



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