Will Asset Sales Boost Occidental's Stock?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Occidental Petroleum ( OXY) is looking to sell about 40% of its assets in the Middle East and North Africa, perhaps in the hope that a sale will help lift its stock, the way asset sales boosted the stock of Apache ( APA), another U.S.-based energy company.

Despite the asset sales, the two companies will continue to go after growth in the Middle East. Occidental will spend an additional $300 million in its core markets in the Middle East while Apache has applied for additional leases in Egypt.

Apache's officials have repeatedly said that the unrest in Egypt hasn't hurt the company's operations. But the crisis is not making operating in the Middle East more attractive. Last August, markets cheered when Apache announced the sale of Egyptian assets. The shares -- which traded recently at $82.79, up 70 cents -- rose 9% on the day after the company announced it was selling one-third of its assets in Egypt to China's Sinopec (SHI).

Shares of Occidental's shares, meanwhile, have risen by 13% during the last 12 months. They were recently trading at $94.38, up 1%.

The company was looking to sell assets to a consortium of state-owned enterprises from Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. According to Bloomberg, however, the company could not secure the deal because of the political rift between Qatar and other Arab countries. Unlike its peers, Qatar has been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

As a result, Occidental is considering breaking up its assets instead of selling it to a single investor group.

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