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Friday, March 11, 2016

What Does Chesapeake Energy's Spiking Stock Price Mean?

From Seeking Alpha comes multiple articles looking at the recent rise Chesapeake Energy has seen in its stock price, as well as other market factors, and what it all means.

First there was this:
Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) has seen a tremendous rally in the last few days. It went from a $1.59 close on February 12 to $4.27 as of Thursday's close. That's roughly a 169% gain in just 13 market sessions. 
Was this gain based on any fundamental change for the business? Is CHK less risky and more valuable now than 13 market sessions ago? The answer is a resounding no. If anything, its risk has just increased in that half month. This article thus just puts a single message out there: Sell it. No matter where you bought CHK, just sell it. I'll tell you why.
Another article had this to say:
Those might be rather convoluted and technical reasons for a stock trading on so much emotion. CHK as of late is even tracking crude more closely than natural gas, in spite of natural gas making up most of its revenues. 
So I am taking this through another angle. I am going to say something outrageous and simple to understand: At the present market prices, CHK stands to sell its natural gas for a net $0. Zero. Zilch per Mcf.
And the third article looks to sort through the spike in the company's stock price:
A day after the late Aubrey McClendon was indicted on anti-trust charges, he was found dead in his vehicle, which had crashed into a wall under a bridge at high speed. Dental records proved that the body found in the wreckage was McClendon's, and there are reasons to believe that this could have been a suicide. Regardless of the shenanigans Aubrey McClendon had gotten up to while running Chesapeake Energy, this is still a tragedy. After founding Chesapeake Energy at the age of 29, it was McClendon, who was 56 at the time of his death, who helped make the North American energy renaissance possible. 
Now there have been some reports and comments regarding why Chesapeake's stock skyrocketed upwards around the same time. The real reason is that Chesapeake was granted immunity in return for helping the federal government with its anti-trust case. This removed a potentially devastating drain on its liquidity as most expected the company to have to pay a hefty amount of fees and fines related to the charges. That news, combined with various other factors that I will get into below, is what helped send Chesapeake upwards, not the sad news of McClendon's death. 
Capex and DUCs coming down 
On the financial front, Chesapeake's dire liquidity position doesn't look quite as desperate anymore. First, the company cut its 2016 capex budget down to $1.3 billion-$1.8 billion (including $300 million in capitalized interest) from $3.6 billion in 2015. Instead of focusing as much on drilling, Chesapeake plans to train its capex towards completing its DUC (drilled but uncompleted) inventory. Chesapeake expects its DUC portfolio to get cut in half as you can see below.


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