Chesapeake Energy (CHK) is blessed with wonderful assets and a management team that has regularly been leading innovators in the energy space as far as predicting trends and technological developments. The problem with the company is that they are run like an aggressive “wildcat” firm as opposed to multi-billion dollar behemoth. Balance sheet issues such as too much leverage and overly aggressive capital expenditure plans are hurting the stock, as investors are worried about Chesapeake’s continual ability to pull off the balancing act with natural gas prices being so low. It is folly to doubt Chesapeake’s knowledge of the industry as their recent first-mover effort into the Utica Shale and subsequent asset sales exhibits, but CEO Aubrey McClendon is not doing investors a favor in maintaining such elevated Capex levels instead of reducing debt to secure the financial position of the company. If natural gas prices stay as low as they are then asset prices are going to continue to decline putting the company in a much more precarious financial position. At TTCM we have some small positions in Chesapeake which we believe to be undervalued but our lack of faith in the capital allocation is prohibiting us from building a bigger position.
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