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$1.7B charge on gas assets dents Occidental 4Q

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Occidental Petroleum Corp. said on Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income fell 79 percent because of a $1.7 billion charge to mark down the value of some U.S. gas assets and from lower prices.

The company earned $336 million, or 42 cents per share, in the October-December period, down from $1.63 billion, or $2.01 per share, during the same period a year earlier.

Without the gas assets charge and some other items, profit came to $1.47 billion, or $1.83 per share, down from $1.64 billion, or $2.02 per share, a year earlier.

The adjusted profit was better than the $1.66 per share profit expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $6.17 billion, from $6.03 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting $5.63 billion.

Fourth-quarter production rose to 779,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, from 748,000 a year earlier, mostly because of increases in domestic operations.

However, prices fell. Occidental collected $96.19 per barrel for crude oil, down from $99.62 a year earlier. Prices for natural gas liquids fell further, down to $45.08 per barrel, compared with $55.25 a year earlier.

An abundance of natural gas supply in the U.S. has kept prices low, hurting revenue for producers like Occidental.

Chemical earnings rose to $180 million, from $144 million a year ago.

For all of 2012, Occidental's profits fell 32 percent to almost $5 billion, or $5.67 per share, from $6.77 billion, or $8.32 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose 1 percent to $24.17 billion.

Its shares rose $1.21, or 1.4 percent, to $86.53 in morning trading.