Warren Buffett Buys Deeper Into Occidental Petroleum — How Inflation Reduction Act Played a Factor

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock (11762544a)In this May 7, 2018, photo, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett smiles during an interview in Omaha, Neb.
Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock / Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway received regulatory authorization to acquire 50% of Occidental Petroleum, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) deemed the transaction was “consistent with the public interest,” according to an Aug. 19 report.

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Buffett had been slowly increasing his stake in the oil and gas company, as in July he had bought 12 million shares for $698 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. CFRA Research notes that Berkshire Hathaway now owns ~20% of the common stock, which makes it the single largest shareholder, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I think this transaction represents a continuation of Berkshire’s investment in OXY and reflects BRK’s confidence in the OXY model and management team,” Cathy Seifert, vice president at CFRA Research, told GOBankingRates. “For Berkshire shareholders this transaction increases their exposure to the energy sector, and specifically to the Permian Basin, considered by many to be the most prolific oil basin in the U.S. Lower 48.”

Shares of Occidental Petroleum are up a whopping 129.5% year-to-date.

In a note sent to GOBankingRates, CFRA Research wrote that it expects Berkshire to continue to add to its OXY position, but also notes the company has an $11 billion commitment late this year when it closes on its acquisition of Alleghany Corporation.

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CFRA said it is maintaining its Hold opinion on Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway.

In terms of Buffett’s enormous interest in the oil and gas company, several experts note that it might stem from several factors: The sector has been benefiting from soaring prices lately, Buffett has signaled admiration for its CEO and it’s believed the company might benefit from the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.

Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub said in an Aug. 3 second quarter earnings call that the recently passed Inflation Recovery Act had many good things in it.

In a statement posted on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ website, Hollub said: “I commend Senator Manchin for his leadership in developing the most significant energy security and climate legislation to date. The energy provisions in this bill will maintain American energy supply while accelerating the transition to low carbon energy through the deployment of carbon removal and capture technologies at the scale needed to meet climate goals. These provisions will also help the U.S. to be a global leader in addressing climate change.”

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Further, as Natural Gas Intel reports, Occidental’s portfolio is “primed for many of the credit and tax provisions in the Senate Democrats’ Inflation Recovery Act.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hollub told investors earlier this month that the act was “a good development for the company.” Hollub noted that advantageous oil and gas lease provisions were part of the reason “this is turning into for us a net very positive bill” during an Aug. 3 earnings call.

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In March, Buffett told CNBC that he decided to start buying Occidental after reading a transcript of the company’s Feb. 25 earnings call.

“I read every word, and said this is exactly what I would be doing. She’s [CEO Vicki Hollub] running the company the right way,” Buffett told CNBC at the time.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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