This year has been nothing short of a nightmare for the oil and gas company, its stock and investors. It has suffered government scrutiny and the tragic death of its founder and ex-CEO. Since August 2014, when oil was still relatively expensive, Chesapeake's stock has lost more than 80% of its value. It is a stock to avoid.
Earlier this month, Chesapeake announced second-quarter earnings results. And although losses were narrower during the period then a year ago, the company still missed Wall Street's expectations.
Oklahoma-City based Chesapeake recorded a loss of $1.75 billion, or $2.48 per share. While this was better than the loss of $4.15 billion, or $6.27 per share, reported for the second quarter of 2015, analysts had expected a loss of only 9 cents per share.
Revenues from oil and natural gas plunged 54% to $440 million, while Wall Street had expected more than $970 million. Investors were not amused.
Today, Chesapeake's stock is shooting higher (by more than 6%) on the news that it is seeking a loan for $1 billion to help the company address its $9 billion debt problem.
The company has recruited Goldman Sachs, Citigroup , and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to arrange the debt, which will be secured for five years. With the money, Chesapeake will buy back as much as $500 million of its bonds.
The company has been undergoing a schedule of cost-cutting measures to help dig its way out from under this debt load. In the second quarter, Chesapeake lowered its operating expenses by 63% by cutting jobs and selling off its assets.
"Financial discipline remains our top priority," said CEO Doug Lawler during the most recent earnings call, "and we continue to work toward additional solutions to improve our liquidity, reduce our midstream commitments, and enhance our margins."
Chesapeake has also announced that it will be shedding its holdings in the resource-rich Barnett Shale to Saddle Operating, a Dallas-based firm backed by private equity firm First Reserve Corp. These assets will be given away for free simply to continue cutting costs -- with an expected $300 million to be saved annually through 2019.
Chesapeake, which ranks as the U.S.'s second-largest natural gas producer (behind ExxonMobil and ahead of Anadarko Petroleum) plans to sell more than $2 billion in assets this year.
Although some investors are cheering today's developments and piling back into the stock, Chesapeake remains an investment to stay clear of. Energy prices are not going to reclaim their zenith for a while, and producers like Chesapeake will remain downtrodden. Plus, this company's history of disaster should repel any any risk-averse investor.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.