CHK_WHITE_logo.epsChesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) reported financial and operational results for the 2016 third quarter plus other recent developments. Highlights include:

  • Enhanced operating and capital efficiencies drive 2016 third quarter average production of 638,100 boe per day
  • Oil production of 86,600 barrels per day lower sequentially after divestiture impacts of 8,200 barrels per day in the 2016 third quarter; 2016 fourth quarter oil production projected to be 90,000 to 95,000 barrels per day
  • Decrease in production expenses of $0.25 per boe sequentially, resulting in lower full-year 2016 and 2017 production expense guidance
  • Improved financial flexibility following refinancing of near and mid-term maturities through new offerings and subsequent tender offers
  • Enhanced operating flexibility through Barnett Shale exit, Mid-Continent and Rockies gathering agreement restructuring and significant reductions of future midstream commitments
  • Total liquidity following Barnett Shale closing of approximately $3.7 billion
  • Over 60% and 50% of projected natural gas and oil production, respectively, hedged in 2017
  • Exit rate production, driven by oil volumes, poised to grow significantly in 2017 and 2018

Doug Lawler, Chesapeake’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We continue to make progress in reducing leverage, decreasing total cash costs and improving future midstream expenses. Our achievements in these areas, particularly in regard to our balance sheet, provide a stronger foundation for improving profitability and enhanced returns from our capital program in 2017 and beyond. As we have previously stated, our large resource base and significant inventory of high-return drilling opportunities offer long-term growth and flexibility for our shareholders.”

2016 Third Quarter Results

For the 2016 third quarter, Chesapeake’s revenues declined by 33% year over year due to a decrease in the average realized commodity prices received for its production, lower production volumes and a decrease in the volumes sold and prices received by the company’s marketing affiliate on behalf of third-party producers. Average daily production for the 2016 third quarter of approximately 638,100 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) consisted of approximately 86,600 barrels (bbls) of oil, 2.914 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas and 65,700 bbls of natural gas liquids (NGL).

Chesapeake’s operating expenses continue to decline. Average production expenses during the 2016 third quarter were $2.80 per boe, while G&A expenses (including stock-based compensation) during the 2016 third quarter were $1.08 per boe. Combined production and G&A expenses (including stock-based compensation) during the 2016 third quarter were $3.88 per boe, a decrease of 20% year over year and 5% from the 2016 second quarter. A summary of the company’s production and operating cost guidance for 2016 and 2017 is provided in the Outlook dated November 3, 2016, beginning on Page 20.

Chesapeake reported a net loss available to common stockholders of $1.197 billion, or $1.54 per share, while the company’s ebitda for the 2016 third quarter was a loss of $801 million. The primary drivers of the net loss wereBarnett Shale exit costs of approximately $616 million and a noncash impairment of the carrying value of Chesapeake’s oil and natural gas properties of approximately $433 million, largely resulting from decreases in the trailing 12-month average first-day-of-the-month oil and natural gas prices as of September 30, 2016, as compared to June 30, 2016. Adjusting for these and other items that are typically excluded by securities analysts, the 2016 third quarter adjusted net income available to common stockholders was $27 million, or $0.09 per common share, while the company’s adjusted ebitda was $421 million in the 2016 third quarter. These adjusted results include a recorded gain of $146 million of proceeds related to the sale of a long-term natural gas supply contract which was sold in the 2016 third quarter and reflected in the company’s marketing, gathering and compression revenues. Reconciliations of financial measures calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to non-GAAP measures are provided on pages 12 – 18 of this release.

Capital Spending Overview

Chesapeake’s total capital investments were approximately $412 million during the 2016 third quarter, compared to approximately $623 million in the 2015 third quarter, as summarized in the table below.

 

Balance Sheet and Liquidity

As of September 30, 2016, Chesapeake’s debt principal balance was approximately $8.7 billion, including approximately $240 million of borrowings outstanding on the company’s revolving credit facility, compared to $9.7 billionas of December 31, 2015, and $11.7 billion as of September 30, 2015.

During the 2016 third quarter, the company entered into a $1.5 billion secured five-year term loan facility. Chesapeake used the net proceeds from this term loan to purchase and retire $898 million principal amount of its senior notes and $708 million principal amount of its contingent convertible senior notes for $1.5 billion pursuant to tender offers.

In October 2016, Chesapeake issued in a private placement $1.25 billion principal amount of unsecured 5.5% Convertible Senior Notes due 2026. The company intends to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include debt repurchases and the repayment of borrowings under its credit facility and senior notes with near-term maturities as they become due. Additionally, the company completed private exchanges in aggregate of approximately 110.3 million shares of its common stock for 134,000 shares of 5.00% Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock (Series 2005B), 606,271 shares of 5.75% Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock and 553,007 shares of 5.75% Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock (Series A). This amount of preferred stock represents approximately $1.2 billion of liquidation value, which was exchanged at a discount of approximately 40%. The company also repurchased in the open market approximately $105 million principal amount of its outstanding debt scheduled to mature or that could be put to the company in 2017 and 2018 for $106 million.

Since September 30, 2015, Chesapeake has significantly reduced its near-term debt maturities. As of November 2, 2016, Chesapeake’s principal debt maturities by year, including debt that could be put to the company, are as follows:

Asset Acquisitions and Divestitures Update

In the 2016 third quarter, the company entered into an agreement to convey its interests in the Barnett Shale operating area located in North Texas to Total S.A.(NYSE: TOT) and simultaneously terminate future commitments associated with this asset. The transaction closed on October 31, 2016, and Chesapeake paid $334 million to terminate an existing gathering agreement with Williams Partners L.P. (NYSE: WPZ) (“Williams”).

Also in the 2016 third quarter, the company entered into a purchase and sale agreement to sell the majority of its upstream and midstream assets in the Devonian Shale located in West Virginia and Kentucky, which includes approximately 882,000 net acres and approximately 5,600 wells along with related gathering assets, as well as other property, plant and equipment. Chesapeake will retain deep drilling rights in the area after the anticipated disposition. In connection with this divestiture, the company expects to repurchase one of its two remaining volumetric production payment (VPP) transactions. All of the acquired interests will be conveyed in the divestiture and the company will no longer have any future obligations related to this VPP. After the repurchase of this VPP, the company expects net cash proceeds from this disposition to be nominal.

In the 2016 third quarter, Chesapeake purchased additional working interests in certain of its operated properties in its Haynesville Shale operating area for approximately $85 million, adding approximately 72,500 net acres to its net acreage position and approximately 55 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day of net natural gas production.

The company continues to focus on select asset divestitures and is currently planning to sell additional properties by year-end 2016, including a portion of itsHaynesville Shale properties.

Midstream Update

In addition to the gas gathering agreement termination with Williams in the Barnett Shale, Chesapeake renegotiated its existing cost-of-service gas gathering agreement with Williams in the Mid-Continent operating area to a fixed-fee arrangement in exchange for a $66 million payment in the 2016 third quarter. This new agreement became effective July 1, 2016.

The company also accelerated the value of a long-term natural gas supply contract in the 2016 third quarter by selling rights under a long-term gas supply agreement for $146 million in cash proceeds. In connection with this sale, the company reversed a $280 million derivative asset which was reflected as an unrealized hedging loss during the current quarter.

In October 2016, Chesapeake announced that it signed a letter of intent to restructure its natural gas gathering and service agreement in its Powder River Basinoperating area with Williams and Crestwood Equity Partners L.P. (NYSE: CEQP). The restructured services are expected to replace the current cost-of-service arrangement and improve economics which support increased development across an expanded area of dedication in the region. Subject to board approvals from all three companies of the definitive agreement, the restructured services are to become effective January 1, 2017, for a 20-year term.

Operations Update

Chesapeake’s average daily production for the 2016 third quarter was approximately 638,100 boe and is further detailed in the table below. For the 2016 fourth quarter, the company expects its average daily production to range between 550,000 and 570,000 boe (including approximately one month of production from theBarnett Shale assets). With average daily oil production of approximately 91,000 barrels per day for the month of October 2016, the company expects its average daily oil production to range between 90,000 and 95,000 barrels per day for the 2016 fourth quarter.

Chesapeake currently expects its exit rate production to grow significantly over the next two years. The company is currently projecting an exit-to-exit increase in total production from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017 of approximately 7%, adjusted for asset sales. More importantly, the company is projecting an exit-to-exit increase in its oil production from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017 of approximately 10%. For 2018, the company is currently projecting an increase in its total production from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018 of approximately 15%, primarily driven by an exit-to-exit increase in its oil production from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018 of approximately 20%. Chesapeake’s projected growth rates are preliminary and its flexible capital expenditure program will be adjusted based on prevailing market conditions and are subject to final capital allocation decisions for 2017 and 2018.

Chesapeake is currently utilizing 11 drilling rigs across its operating areas, three of which are located in the Eagle Ford Shale, three in the Haynesville Shale, three in the Mid-Continent area and two rigs in the Utica Shale. Chesapeake plans to utilize its existing rigs through year-end and plans to drill 50 to 60 wells and place approximately 100 to 110 wells on production in the 2016 fourth quarter. (Original Source)

Shares of Chesapeake Energy are currently trading at $5.39, up $0.08 or 1.41%. CHK has a 1-year high of $8.15 and a 1-year low of $1.50. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $6.60 and its 200-day moving average is $5.46.

On the ratings front, CHK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on October 25, RBC analyst Scott Hanold upgraded CHK to Hold, with a price target of $8.00, which implies an upside of 51% from current levels. Separately, on October 21, Wunderlich Securities’ Jason Wangler reiterated a Buy rating on the stock .

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Scott Hanold and Jason Wangler have a yearly average loss of 3.0% and 11.9% respectively. Hanold has a success rate of 38% and is ranked #3160 out of 4165 analysts, while Wangler has a success rate of 33% and is ranked #3981.

Overall, 4 research analysts have rated the stock with a Sell rating, 8 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and 3 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $6.38 which is 20.2% above where the stock closed yesterday.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. engages as a natural gas and oil exploration and production company. It operates through the Exploration and Production; Marketing, Gathering and Compression segments. The Exploration and Production segment focuses on finding and producing natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids. The Marketing, Gathering, and Compression segment deals with the marketing, gathering, and compression of natural gas, oil, and natural gas liquids primarily from Chesapeake-operated wells.