NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A recent New York Times article has questioned the claims of the natural gas industry, its projections on reserves and the economic viability of shale gas. The article called the hype surrounding the shale gas revolution a "Ponzi scheme," citing various emails from inside the industry and between departments of the Energy Information Administration. The New York Times story is wrong. Despite its contrarian argument, natural gas is cheap, plentiful, domestic, green and inevitable. We now have to consider whether this series of hit pieces from The New York Times has set up some counter-indicative opportunities in the space. Having seen the action in the natural gas sector over the past two days, I'm thinking it likely has. There are two main arguments in Ian Urbina's article. One, that estimated shale gas reserves have been largely unproved and two, that those reserves cannot be economically extracted at the flat $4 price at which natural gas has been loitering. Both are pretty weak arguments, and even after he rifled through thousands of emails, Urbina found scant industry support for his theses. The New York Times apparently forgot that gas prices can go up as they have virtually every two years since 2001, while admittedly staying flat since 2008. Still, the article has had a measurable impact on the sector. On Monday and Tuesday, the major stock indices recorded fairly substantial gains, led to a great degree by other energy names. However natural gas stocks were relatively flat, and some were even down on the day. Chesapeake Energy ( CHK) serves as a possible counter-indicative stock, especially because it was the prime target of the article and because Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon fired back quickly at the media through a "public" memo to employees on Monday. Chesapeake was one of my least favorite natural gas stocks, mostly because of the mercurial nature of its CEO and his frequent E&P acquisition binges. Those would inevitably be followed by a huge weighing down of the balance sheet and quick diet fixes of joint ventures and asset sales.
Add the flat price of natural gas, and Chesapeake greatly underperformed its peers from 2008 to 2011, despite its sector-leading portfolio of shale assets. But this year, Chesapeake has done more than a few things right. Spurred by raider Carl Icahn, it has dropped almost $4 billion of debt, sold nonperforming Fayetteville assets to BHP Billiton ( BBP) for almost $5 billion, increased production 6%, gotten less levered to natural gas and more toward oil and oil shale and monetized some of its fracturing technology for $500 million, making its retained stake worth another $3.5 billion. After streaking to $35 a share, CHK has recently gotten pummeled, now trading just above $28. And while energy issues have led the recent two-day rally in the stock market, Chesapeake has been entirely left behind, as have many of the natural gas stocks leveraged to shale, including Range Resources ( RRC) and Southwestern Energy ( SWN). But with the best sector P/E, price-to-book and asset portfolio, it's becoming particularly hard to continue to avoid Chesapeake. At $28, I'm prepared to open up a fresh position, buy more at $26 and back up the truck at $24. But no need to run: The New York Times has one thing right: Natural gas isn't going anywhere immediately. But it will. It has to. The only thing investors have to do is find value in the sector and buy shares when they are being unreasonably beaten up. The Times' series of articles has done that for you in Chesapeake. It's time for me (and for you) to take another look.