MSR in the Media | Warren Buffett vs. Carl Icahn: In A Hot Oil Market, Top Investors Differ On This Stock

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Renowned investors Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn have often looked for bargains in value stocks.

But they aren't always on the same market-side for specific stocks. In recent weeks, Icahn has been on the selling side of Occidental Petroleum (OXY), while Buffett has been on the buying side.

James E. Demmert, founder-managing partner of Main Street Research, agrees with Buffett.

"The energy sector's recent reawakening was originally tied to above-average economic growth rates in the U.S. and globally," said Demmert. "We are basically running at 6% GDP growth compared to 2% to 3% for the previous decade. This creates tremendous demand for oil and gas -- even in a world trying to go 'green.' Two-thirds of the world relies on oil and gas, and when the economy heats up, the demand soars. Hence the rise of oil prices has had a big influence on inflation and the success of the energy companies."

How far will oil reach before it creates sufficient demand destruction?

Jay Young, the founder and president of King Operating Corporation, and author of "The Upside of Oil and Gas Investing," sees oil reaching $135 per barrel before it leads to demand destruction and eventually pulls back.

"The elimination of Russian oil will impact pricing, as will any agreements the U.S. can make with other producers including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and the release of our reserves," he said. "All of these factors will impact the price of oil, and since there are so many variables, it's impossible to predict an exact level for oil. However, all signs point higher and probably significantly higher."

Why is Occidental a good play on this trend?

"Occidental, along with other companies in the sector, have been very out of favor for years," said Demmert. "Occidental has spent that time streamlining their balance sheet and cutting costs. They were well-positioned for a rebound in demand as they now have healthier profit margins. In our view, the energy - oil/gas revival is still in its early stages. The Ukraine war and how it disrupts supply only adds another reason to be in this sector and Occidental."

What about value and valuation?

Occidental Petroleum's economic value added rate has been on the negative side in recent years, according to, meaning that the company destroys value as it grows. The company's shares are significantly overvalued. That means Buffett has been hardly getting a bargain buying the company’s shares at these levels.

But value and valuation could change favorably if oil prices continue to ascend at the current pace and prove Buffett right again.