Cabot has had massive production growth in the core area of the hottest gas play in the country, where the economics of northeastern Pennsylvania support $2.25-$2.50/mcf gas commodity prices, according to industry estimates. But Cabot was also up 102% in 2011, and that's why it's down this week by 9%. It's expensive on a relative valuation basis. A lot of its peers have been so shunned already because of the low natural gas pricing environment that they likely have less room to fall, like a Southwestern Energy or Chesapeake.
Finally, the chart provides a review of the extent to which E&P companies have hedged their exposure to nat gas pricing. As noted above, hedging has been an important strategy for gas E&Ps, but it decreased significantly at year-end 2011. This is a double-edged sword in cases where companies have highly levered balance sheets and a year-over-year decline in hedging. Less hedging might force companies to deal with the in-the-ground natural gas well reality more directly, but it could also lead to cash flow issues.
Chesapeake Energy would be the prime example of risk in this regard. Chesapeake sold off all of its natural gas hedges as of the end of 2011. In a previous article,
TheStreet noted the explanation given by the company for this decision, and the fact that it
TheStreet Ratings take on Chesapeake Energy,