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Declining Stock and Decent Financials: Is The Market Wrong About Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY)?

It is hard to get excited after looking at Occidental Petroleum's (NYSE:OXY) recent performance, when its stock has declined 8.3% over the past three months. However, the company's fundamentals look pretty decent, and long-term financials are usually aligned with future market price movements. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Occidental Petroleum's ROE today.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

Check out our latest analysis for Occidental Petroleum

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Occidental Petroleum is:

45% = US$13b ÷ US$29b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.45 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Occidental Petroleum's Earnings Growth And 45% ROE

To begin with, Occidental Petroleum has a pretty high ROE which is interesting. Additionally, the company's ROE is higher compared to the industry average of 32% which is quite remarkable. Given the circumstances, we can't help but wonder why Occidental Petroleum saw little to no growth in the past five years. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that's limiting the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that the industry grew its earnings by 7.3% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Occidental Petroleum is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Occidental Petroleum Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Occidental Petroleum has a low LTM (or last twelve month) payout ratio of 3.1% (or a retention ratio of 97%) but the negligible earnings growth number doesn't reflect this as high growth usually follows high profit retention.

In addition, Occidental Petroleum has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to rise to 19% over the next three years. Therefore, the expected rise in the payout ratio explains why the company's ROE is expected to decline to 19% over the same period.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that Occidental Petroleum has some positive attributes. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return and is reinvesting ma huge portion of its profits. By the looks of it, there could be some other factors, not necessarily in control of the business, that's preventing growth. Additionally, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that analysts expect the company's earnings to continue to shrink in the future. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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