Why Warren Buffett keeps buying Occidental Petroleum


Warren Buffett hasn’t stated a lot about Occidental Petroleum (OXY) in current months.

But Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) actions have indicated loads.

The conglomerate has continued its regular buying of the Houston-based oil and gasoline explorer with its stake at present standing at 23.6% of the corporate.

And when the “Oracle of Omaha” takes the stage to deal with shareholders at Berkshire’s annual assembly on Saturday, buyers can be centered on not solely what he says about power, but in addition on whether or not Occidental will grow to be the corporate’s newest outright buy.

Asked about his funding eventually yr’s assembly, Buffett stated, “What [Occidental CEO] Vicki Hollub was saying made nothing but sense… And I decided that it was a good place to put Berkshire’s money.”

Buying an oil stock is not an outlier for Buffett and his crew. According to Berkshire’s most recent 13F filing, Chevron (CVX) was Berkshire’s third largest holding on the finish of final yr, with the corporate’s place valued at greater than $29 billion at in the present day’s costs.

Occidental has rapidly risen into the highest 10 on that record, too, with Berkshire’s stake valued at $12.7 billion.

“There are some characteristics of this [Occidental] investment that are consistent with what we’ve seen historically from Warren Buffett. That it’s a value name,” James Shanahan, equity analyst at Edward Jones, informed Yahoo Finance.

“It fits this other criteria too, where he likes that the business generates a lot of cash flow and that they buy back stock,” he added.

How far Buffett takes this funding is among the large questions hanging over the corporate forward of this weekend’s shareholder assembly.

In August of final yr, the corporate obtained regulatory approval to buy as much as 50% of Occidental frequent stock. A play for your complete firm is not out of the realm of chance Shanahan stated.

Berkshire govt Greg Abel, inheritor obvious to Warren Buffett, can be chair of subsidiary Berkshire Energy Holdings. “If [Buffett] were to ultimately acquire Oxy, which he may do, it would be complementary to his other activities of Berkshire Hathaway Energy,” stated Shanahan.

“And I think that potentially with Greg Abel taking over as CEO of Berkshire, [Hollub] could be a candidate to run Berkshire Hathaway Energy at some point.”

Pat Egan, CEO of See’s Candies, talks to Gregory Abel, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and who’s designated to succeed Warren Buffett as Berkshire CEO, in the course of the first in-person annual assembly since 2019 of Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. April 29, 2022. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

Buffett’s affect on power markets

Shanahan, one of many few Wall Street analysts who covers the sprawling Berkshire Hathaway empire, calculates Berkshire’s power investments account for about 13% – or $48 billion — of Berkshire’s roughly $360 billion equity portfolio. Shanahan maintains a Buy score on the stock.

The conglomerate’s whole stability sheet holds a complete of about $950 billion in belongings, together with its insurance coverage operations, wholly-owned subsidiaries, and fixed-income investments.

And Buffett’s bets within the oil and gasoline business have introduced further confidence to bulls within the house.

Bob Iaccino, co-founder at Path Trading Partners, stated Buffett’s bets on midstream oil infrastructure performs like Phillips 66 (PSX) and Kinder Morgan (KMI) caught his eye over the previous decade.

“I was sort of bolstered, as somebody who thinks we have at least 15 or 20 years of fossil fuels being widely dominant,” Iaccino informed Yahoo Finance. “I thought his midstream infrastructure investments were some of the things that were more influential.”

Berkshire has since closed each of those positions.

The ties between Buffett and Occidental Petroleum return to April 2019, when Berkshire Hathaway backed Occidental’s proposed bid for Anadarko Petroleum with a $10 billion dedication. The deal was pivotal within the firm profitable its pursuit of Anadarko towards Chevron’s rival supply.

Buffett’s money infusion gave Berkshire 100,000 most popular shares and the fitting to purchase as much as 80 million frequent shares of the corporate at $62.50. At the time, Occidental shares had been buying and selling simply shy of $60.

The stock tanked on the onset of the pandemic, nevertheless, as oil costs collapsed amid fears in regards to the world financial system. Occidental stock rallied massively final yr as oil costs surged and Berkshire has continued buying.

“They’ve been pretty disciplined that if you look at all the data Berkshire doesn’t seem to have a lot of interest in buying the stock above $60 per share,” stated Shanahan, who calculates the fee foundation is available in round $54.90.

Buffett’s affinity in the direction of Oxy could stem from his admiration of Hollub’s management as CEO and the corporate’s carbon capture strategy, in Shanahan’s view.

“What they’re going to be able to do is sell carbon capture credits — ultimately sell oil, like net zero oil, at a premium to the market,” Shanahan stated.

In March, Berkshire scooped up one other 3.7 million shares of Occidental. Berkshire’s possession share additionally continues to go up every time Occidental buys again its personal shares.

Last yr’s elevated oil costs had been a boon for power firms.

Occidental soared a whopping 117% in 2022 amid traditionally elevated power costs, closing at a 52-week excessive of $75.97 on November 7. The Energy sector (XLE) rose greater than 50% in 2022 amid the stock market’s worst yr since 2008.

Shares have since come off these ranges as oil developments decrease amid rising banking and recession considerations. Occidental shares are down roughly 5% year-to-date, in comparison with the S&P 500 index’s 1% acquire.

In February, Occidental Petroleum announced record net income for 2022 and a brand new $3 billion share repurchase authorization together with a 38% dividend hike.

The Occidental Petroleum Corp headquarters is pictured in Los Angeles, California September 16, 2013. Occidental Petroleum Corp may still be headquartered in Los Angeles, as it has been since being founded nearly a century ago, but its center of gravity is shifting to Houston, capital of the U.S. energy industry. Picture taken on September 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS)

The Occidental Petroleum Corp headquarters is pictured in Los Angeles, California September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Josh and Ines are reporters for Yahoo Finance.

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