Occidental posts loss on $1.4 billion charges, cuts budget again

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FILE PHOTO: The logo for Occidental Petroleum is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Troubled oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp swung to a loss in the first quarter on Tuesday on $1.4 billion in write downs and cut its budget for the third time since March in response to the historic crash of oil prices.

It reported a net loss of $2.23 billion, or $2.49 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with a profit of $631 million, or 84 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Occidental has been struggling with debt taken on in last year’s ill-timed acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum, a bet on rising shale oil prices months ahead of the worst price crash in decades.

The purchase saddled Occidental with $40 billion in debt and the oil-price crash has cut the value of assets that Occidental picked up in the deal, dashing its hopes of selling them to pay down the debt.

The company cut its capital budget for the year to between $2.4 billion and $2.6 billion after earlier downsizing it to between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion, nearly half the original forecast.

It has identified additional $1.2 billion in operating and overhead cost cuts for 2020, it said on Tuesday.

Shares closed at $15.32 on Tuesday, down 1.3%.

Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and David Gregorio

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