Why Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's Shares Popped Late Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: APC  ) jumped 15% today after settling a long-standing lawsuit.

So what: Anadarko settled an environmental lawsuit with the U.S. government for $5.1 billion, ending a battle that's lasted more than five years. This stems from the $18 billion acquisition of Kerr-McGee's oil and gas business nearly a decade ago. Kerr-McGee had spun off its chemical business just three months earlier to a company called Tronox, and included environmental liabilities, only to see Tronox go bankrupt in 2009. 

Now what: Sure, $5.1 billion is a lot of money, but investors seem to be cheering companies settling litigation right now. The payment also falls below a range of $5.2 billion to $14.2 billion, suggested by Tronox's bankruptcy judge late last year. Investors were clearly expecting a settlement, so just eliminating the cloud over Anadarko is seen as a positive today.

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