Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) has been struggling to recover in recent years. Its five-year returns are currently sitting at a dismal 81% decline. But since the start of 2018, CHK stock has posted 15% gains, and some analysts are calling for a significant rise in oil prices through the end of the year. Oil prices, which are currently around $70, could hit at least $120 before the end of 2018, they’ve said.
But with CHK stock, it seems like every ounce of good news is balanced out by something bad, and vice versa. For example, InvestorPlace contributor Will Healy recently offered a counterpoint to those bullish on oil, pointing out that a rising U.S. dollar is likely going to weigh on energy prices.
On top of that, Chesapeake Energy recently disappointed Wall Street with its earnings report … again. CHK stock has declined after six of its last seven earnings reports, according to MarketWatch. In the most recent quarter, Chesapeake Energy posted earnings of 15-cents-per-share — right in line with Wall Street’s expectations — but oil and gas sales disappointed thanks to a year-over-year decline of 23%. Also, the company posted a net loss vs. a profit during the same period last year.
That’s bad news, and of course, it has been balanced out by a potential positive: The extremely debt-ridden company recently announced it would sell its stake in Utica Shale for $2 billion and use that to reduce its debt load. In 2012, the company made a series of acquisitions just before natural gas prices nosedived and it has been trying to fix its balance sheet ever since.
Should Investors Consider CHK Stock Here?
Moody’s is reconsidering its junk rating as a result of the sale, which will close in the fourth quarter. Some analysts bumped their price targets, too. At the end of last year, the company’s debt was more than five times its adjusted earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization — a figure that also disappointed during the second quarter.
So how do these conflicting metrics and headlines stack up? The Utica Shale sale to me isn’t as positive of an announcement as it’s made out to be. Any bull case, or perhaps, more accurately, recovery case, for CHK stock has been built on the promise that the company will repair its financial health.
This is simply Chesapeake taking a step in the right direction.
In a similar vein, upgraded analyst ratings aren’t that impressive; the bar is set very low. Right now, the average price target for Chesapeake stock is less than a dime higher than its existing value, while the vast majority of experts have a nonchalant “hold” rating on shares.
Chesapeake Energy is hardly a clear-cut stock; recoveries can often be hard to see because of all the baggage from the downfall. But despite how far CHK stock has fallen and the fact that it has gained at least minuscule momentum so far this year, I’m still staying away.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.