* 2nd-quarter adj profit $1.58/share vs Street view $1.60
* Higher U.S. output offset by lower production in Colombia
* Shares drop nearly 3 pct, giving up past month's gain
July 30 Occidental Petroleum Corp posted
a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, hurt by
lower oil prices in the Middle East and North Africa, where the
fourth-largest U.S. oil company is considering an exit.
Chief Executive Steve Chazen indicated in April that
Occidental's Middle East operations might be put up for sale
, and analysts also expect the California
division to be spun off.
Chazen said on Tuesday that various options for reshaping
the company were being evaluated by the board of directors.
"The board has really just been exposed to this in detail at
one meeting, and so it will take a little while," he said on a
conference call with analysts, adding that more information
would be available toward the end of the year.
Shareholders ousted Executive Chairman Ray Irani in May,
ending his more than two-decade run at the company and giving
Chazen a free hand.
Occidental said oil and gas production volumes rose nearly 1
percent in the second quarter, to 772,000 barrels of oil
equivalent (boe) per day, due to surging output in Texas'
Permian Basin and California.
Volumes at the company's international operations declined
due to insurgency in Colombia.
Occidental gets about two-thirds of its oil and gas output
in the United States, and Chazen said second-half U.S.
production would be 2 to 3 percent higher than the first-half's
262,000 boe per day.
The company's second-quarter net profit was $1.32 billion,
or $1.64 per share, little changed from a year earlier. Adjusted
profit was $1.58 per share, 2 cents below analysts' average
estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 3 percent to $5.96 billion.
Occidental said crude oil prices in the Middle East and
North Africa fell 7 percent in the quarter, while U.S. prices
rose 3 percent.
The company, which is aiming to reduce U.S. drilling costs
by 15 percent this year, has cut them by 21 percent so far in
The Los Angeles-based company offered extensive details on
its California operations on the conference call, feeding
speculation that it may spin off that unit, which regularly
faces tougher government scrutiny than elsewhere.
"We want to make sure that the California company has
stable, solid cash flow going forward, and the regulatory
environment will take a while to develop," Chazen said. "This is
not North Dakota."
Occidental shares fell nearly 3 percent to $87.90 in
late-morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Through
Monday, the stock had risen 18 percent this year.