First off is the sole new position that Icahn Associates added to its portfolio in the second quarter: Chesapeake Energy (CHK - Get Report). The investor bought more than 50 million shares of the firm during the second quarter, remarkably taking nearly a $1 billion position in the firm within a single quarter.
The decision to buy Chesapeake is significant. Not only was Icahn buying weakness from CHK's dramatic and public shakeup earlier this year, but the purchase also represented his second time owning a major stake in the energy company. Icahn sold off his firm's previous holdings back in 2010, when he lost confidence in the board.Now he owns 7.6% of outstanding shares -- and he wants the board to make some big changes. >>5 Rocket Stocks Ready for Blastoff Chesapeake is mainly an unconventional natural gas firm, directing the lion's share of its efforts on 15 million acres of shale and basin projects spread across the U.S. 18.8 trillion cubic feet equivalent of proved reserves make Chesapeake a significant player in the U.S. natgas market, and its outspoken CEO makes it a significant presence in the industry. The firm has had a "for sale" sign out in the open for the last several years, shedding noncore businesses and generating substantial cash for its trouble. As those tertiary asset sales continue, CHK should continue to drive balance sheet liquidity and income statement performance. While CEO Aubrey McClendon has caught a lot of heat for under-disclosing related party transactions, I think it's clear that Chesapeake needs him at the helm. He's navigated the business through treacherous waters before, and his well participation arrangement wasn't in and of itself inappropriate. With shares already slammed from the "scandal," now looks like a bargain opportunity to be a buyer, especially if Icahn and company help to shake extra profits out of the corporate structure.