Occidental Profit Plummets 70%

Occidental Petroleum ( OXY) net income tumbled 70% thanks to what's becoming a familiar theme among oil company earnings: declining commodity prices.

On Thursday, Occidental Petroleum said its earnings came to $682 million, or 84 cents per share, in the second-quarter, compared with $2.3 billion, or $2.78 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue also nose-dived in the quarter, coming to $3.69 billion compared with $7.12 billion in the year-ago. The steep fall was led primarily by a slip in the bread-and-butter oil and gas segment, which saw revenues fall 50% to $2.73 billion.

On average, Occidental said its realized price for a barrel of oil came to $52.97 in the quarter. But at the same time last year, in the midst of exploding oil prices, Occidental's realized price was $110.12 per barrel on average. Occidental's average realized gas prices also dropped by 71% in the same period.

Analysts expected Occidental to show earnings at 80 cents with revenues pegged at $3.82 billion.

Despite the sales drop, Occidental Petroleum still increased oil and gas sales production in the quarter, while global sales volumes also leaped 10% at 649,000 barrels of oil equivalent.

Yesterday, Suncor ( SU) offered a similar assessment of its second quarter performance, pointing to declining prices and higher production.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Occidental said it discovered what it believes may be the largest new oil and gas reserve found in California in the last 35 years. The discovery in Kern County, California was mentioned in today's earnings press release when CEO Ray Irani said the site will contribute to the energy concern's future growth.

Occidental shares were up 1.3%, or 90 cents, at $70.89 before the opening bell.

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