Chesapeake Energy, though, says the new strategic plan has nothing to do with Carl Icahn. Chesapeake manager of investor relations John Kilgallon wrote in an email to TheStreet, "We have had a strategy to significantly reduce debt in place since May 2010 and our '25/25 Plan' is simply an extension of that strategy. We are always engaged in ongoing discussions with shareholders regarding our strategy and financial plans and we believe this updated plan and reaction in our stock price today is evidence of their continued support." It's not exactly the type of sanitized words that investors would think represents a "fundamental shift" in Chesapeake's operating philosophy as a result of the Icahn double-down investment. RBC analyst Hanold said, "Typically guys like Icahn look to shake up a company and influence management and that's today's octane, and to that extent we could see a difference in strategy, but the bottom line is, we need to actually see it." Again, it's going to be words versus deeds with Chesapeake Energy.
Phil Weiss, analyst at Argus Research, who recently downgraded Chesapeake to a sell, agreed, and added, "We've heard things like this before from Chesapeake, only to see them reverse course in the past. Old habits die hard. I need to see execution rather than just comforting words." One data point that the Argus Research analyst pointed to was the rise in the Chesapeake Energy share count over the past few years. Chesapeake said in its Thursday release that it doesn't anticipate any common or preferred share offerings as a way to raise capital. Chesapeake Energy's diluted share count rose from 493 million to 744 million between March 2008 and September 2010, according to Argus Research data. "Saying they don't intend to issue common or preferred stock sounds encouraging, but there have been several occasions in past where they said they wouldn't issue more stock," Weiss says.