Big bet on big oil

Berkshire backed up the truck on OXY after the company’s latest earnings conference call held in late February. Buffett read the transcript and liked what he saw.

“I read every word, and said this is exactly what I would be doing. She’s running the company the right way,” the billionaire investor told CNBC, referring to Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub. “We started buying on Monday and we bought all we could.”

In Q4 of 2021, Occidental generated $8.01 billion of revenue, representing a 139% increase year over year. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.48, a marked improvement over the adjusted loss of 65 cents per share in the year-ago period.

Growth was across the board: Oil and gas revenue rose 95% year over year, chemical revenue jumped 59%, while midstream and marketing revenue more than doubled.

In the conference call, Hollub highlighted Occidental’s strong operational results, improved balance sheet and a new shareholder-return framework.

On Feb. 24, the company’s board of directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of 13 cents per share on OXY common shares, a whopping 1,200% increase over the prior quarter’s payout of just 1 cent per share. The company also announced a $3 billion share repurchase program.

More: Why Warren Buffett hates Bitcoin

Fundrise helps you invest in real estate without having to buy a house. Let their state-of-the-art technology and in-house experience open the door to new opportunities today.

Sign up

Fueling up

While Berkshire’s recent bet on big oil is making headlines, this isn’t the first time that Buffett has invested in Occidental.

In 2019, Berkshire spent $10 billion on Occidental preferred shares to help the company purchase its fellow Houston-based energy producer Anadarko Petroleum. Occidental pays a dividend of 8% annually on that preferred stock, providing Berkshire with $200 million each quarter in dividend income.

The arrangement also gives Berkshire warrants to purchase 83.9 million shares of Occidental common stock at an exercise price of $59.62.

Hot stock in a hot space

Strong commodity prices greatly benefited oil producers in 2021. Among the 11 sectors of the S&P 500, energy was by far the best performing one in 2021, returning an impressive 48%, substantially exceeding the S&P 500’s 27% gain for the year.

That gap in performance has only widened in 2022. The energy sector is already up more than 30% year to date versus the S&P’s 12% decline over the same timeframe.

It’s not hard to understand why: Oil prices were already in a clear upward trend before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further fueled the rally.

Bank of America recently said that crude oil could hit $200 a barrel if the West cuts off Russia’s energy exports.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but Occidental has spiked higher than most of its peers, returning a massive 87% already in 2022.

While commercial real estate to has always been reserved for a few elite investors, outperforming the S&P 500 over a 25-year period, First National Realty Partners allows you to access institutional-quality commercial real estate investments — without the leg work of finding deals yourself.

Get started

Will the rally continue?

To be sure, Buffett’s recent stake in Occidental is a big reason why investors have enthusiastically bid up the shares. In fact, they’re now trading above the price targets of several Wall Street firms that have been bullish on the company.

Morgan Stanley boosted its price target on OXY in January from $48 to $50 and maintained a buy rating. The shares now trade at around $58 a piece.

Bank of America re-rated OXY after the recent spike, downgrading it from buy to neutral on March 8. But the bank also raised its price target on Occidental to $80, roughly 38% above current levels.

Sign up for our MoneyWise newsletter to receive a steady flow of actionable ideas from Wall Street's top firms.

More from MoneyWise

Pour your portfolio a glass of recession resistance

Fine wine is a sweet comfort in any situation — and now it can make your investment portfolio a little more comfortable, too.

Ownership in real assets like fine wine could be the diversification you need to protect your portfolio against the volatile effects of inflation and recession. High-net-worth investors have kept this secret to themselves for too long.

Now a platform called Vinovest helps everyday buyers invest in fine wines — no sommelier certification required.

Vinovest automatically selects the best wines for your portfolio based on your goals, and it tells you the best times to sell to get the best value for your wine.

About the Author

Jing Pan

Jing Pan

Investment Reporter

Jing is an investment reporter for MoneyWise. Prior to joining the team, he was a research analyst and editor at one of the leading financial publishing companies in North America. An avid advocate of investing for passive income, he wrote a monthly dividend stock newsletter for the better half of the past decade. Jing holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree, both from the University of Toronto.

What to Read Next

Disclaimer

The content provided on MoneyWise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.