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Occidental Stock Surges, Retreats As Carl Icahn Exits, Warren Buffett Boosts Stake

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has boosted his bet on Occidental Petroleum just as activist Carl Icahn sold the last of his stake in the Houston-based energy group.

Updated at 11:46 am EST

Occidental Petroleum  (OXY)  shares pared earlier gains Monday following reports that activist investor Carl Icahn has exited the last of his holdings in the oil major just as billionaire Warren Buffett boosted his stake in the group to more than $6.5 billion. 

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment group filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday indicating it had added more than 61 million shares in Occidental last week for around $3.1 billion at an average price of around $50.87 each.

The move takes Buffett's overall total to 113.7 million shares, a figure that represents an 11.2% stake in the Houston-based energy group. 

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Icahn, who began building a stake in Occidental three years ago when he disputed the group's $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum, sold the last of his shares in the group and will pull two executives -- Andrew Langham and Gary Hu -- from the board of directors at the start of the week. 

Occidental shares were marked 3.15% lower Monday, after surging more than 8.5% in pre-market, to change hands at $54.43 each, a move that would trim the stock's six-month gain to around 112%. 

Occidental has been riding the recent surge in global crude prices since it topped Street forecasts for its fourth quarter earnings with an adjusted bottom line of $1.48 per share, thanks in part to its foothold in the shale-rich Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico.

A potential ban on Russian crude sales, linked to the war in Ukraine, as well as the highest global oil prices in more than a decade will likely add to Occidental's performance in the coming months as U.S. drillers focus on domestic assets and international rivals exit Russian joint ventures with the state-backed energy giant Rosneft.

Delays in talks between the U.S. and Iran linked to Tehran's nuclear program also added upward price pressures, with investors now focused on any near-term reaction from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, who only last week held their monthly output increase to 400,000 barrels per day following a meeting in Vienna.

WTI futures for April delivery were marked $7.13 higher at $122.81 per barrel while Brent contracts for May surged $7.37 to $125.47 per barrel, the highest in more than a decade.