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Moody's rating downgrade brings Occidental Petroleum to junk status


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Moody's rating downgrade brings Occidental Petroleum to junk status

Moody's on March 18 lowered Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s senior unsecured rating to Ba1 from Baa3, officially bringing the corporation's rating to noninvestment grade.

The rating agency also downgraded Occidental's senior unsecured shelf rating to (P)Ba1 from (P)Baa3 and its commercial paper program rating to Not Prime from Prime-3, according to a news release.

Moody's said the August 2019 acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. continues to drag down Occidental's balance sheet with more than $35 billion of debt and $10 billion of preferred stock. The rating agency said the debt from the Anadarko acquisition is "significantly compromising" Occidental's financial flexibility amid the ongoing oil price crash and worsening coronavirus outbreak.

"Projected asset sales required for debt reduction have slowed and face considerable headwinds in a challenged oil and natural gas price environment, leaving [Occidental] with a significantly weakened credit profile whose prospects for near-term improvement are uncertain," said Andrew Brooks, a Moody's vice president.

Moody's assigned Occidental a Ba1-PD probability of default rating and a Ba1 corporate family rating and placed both under review for further downgrade. The corporation's stable outlook was changed to rating under review.

Moody's said the reviews for further downgrade will center on Occidental's near-term capability to improve its credit profile, use asset sale proceeds for debt repayments and generate positive free cash flow.

Meanwhile, Moody's sees Occidental's near-term liquidity, comprising $3 billion of balance sheet cash and an unwithdrawn $5 billion revolving credit facility due January 2023, as sufficient. The corporation has no debt maturities coming due in 2020 but faces $6.4 billion of debt maturities in 2021.

Occidental shares were down 6% in late-morning trading March 19 to $9.90 per share.