Icahn Eyes Chesapeake

10/02/2014 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Patrick McKeough

Editor, Successful Investor

Our latest featured recommendation is one of the largest US-based oil and natural gas explorers and producers. Its production mix is 72% gas and 28% oil, explains Pat McKeough of TSI Network.

The shares of Chesapeake Energy (CHK) have nearly doubled since mid-2012, when activist investor Carl Icahn bought a stake in the firm.

Icahn, who has a history of pushing companies to make changes that raise shareholder value, subsequently replaced four of Chesapeake's eight board members with his nominees.

The company also pushed out controversial co-founder, CEO and chairman Aubrey K. McClendon.

Chesapeake continues to restructure by selling non-essential properties and assets. That lets it pay down debt and focus on areas with strong potential.

Most recently, the company set up its oilfield services division as a separate publicly traded firm. In June 2014, Chesapeake handed out shares in this new company, called Seventy Seven Energy, as a tax-deferred dividend. The new stock trades on New York under the symbol SSE.

Chesapeake's $11.5 billion of debt is a high, but manageable, 68% of its market cap. It also holds cash of $1.5 billion, or $2.29 a share, and expects to get another $700 million from asset sales by the end of this year.

The company's daily production averaged 632,000 barrels of oil equivalent in the quarter ended June 30, 2014, up 2.6% from 616,000 a year ago. Cash flow per share rose 3.5% to $2.05 from $1.98.

The stock trades at just 3.1 times its annual cash flow of $8.20 a share, based on the latest quarter. Chesapeake Energy is a buy recommendation for more aggressive investors.

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