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Tickers in this Article: OXY
In the lead up to Occidental Petroleum's (NYSE:OXY) announcement of its third quarter earnings on Thursday, October 25, 2012 analysts' expectations have fallen over the past month to earnings of $1.67 per share from earnings of $1.70 per share.

Investors care about earnings because they drive stock prices. Strong earnings generally result in the stock price moving up and vice versa. SEE: Surprising Earnings Results

What to Expect: The consensus estimate has gone up from $1.62 over the past three months. Analysts are projecting earnings of $7.05 per share for the fiscal year.

Occidental Petroleum's expected revenue of $5.75 billion for the quarter is below last year's reported figure of $6.01 billion by 4.3%. Revenue for the fiscal year is expected to come in at $24.42 billion.

Company Performance: Occidental Petroleum reported a decline in revenue in the second quarter, ending a three-quarter growth streak. It fell 6.2% in the second quarter after rising 9.5%in the first quarter, 31% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year and 22.7% in the third quarter of the last fiscal year.

OXY has a P/E ratio of 10.9, in line with the industry average. Price/earnings ratios (P/E ratios) provide a measure of the relative value of a stock. To determine the P/E ratio, an investor divides the market price of the stock by the earnings-per-share (EPS) of the stock. SEE: Profit With The Power Of Price-To-Earnings

Over the past quarter, the stock price has risen slightly to $84.35, from $83.74 on July 24, 2012. Occidental Petroleum's worst recent stretch was when its stock price fell $8.75 per share between August 10, 2012 and September 5, 2012.

The Competition: Occidental Petroleum is an international organization with subsidiaries operating in the oil and gas, chemical, and midstream markets. The majority of analysts (12 of 17) give Occidental Petroleum a buy rating. They are slightly more optimistic about the stock recently, as the number of buy ratings has risen slightly over the past three months.

The company's closest competitor in the oil and gas - integrated industry is ExxonMobil (XOM). Analysts are more optimistic about Occidental Petroleum than about ExxonMobil. Only seven out of 15 analysts rate the latter a buy.

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