These days, you'd have to search long and hard for a company that trumps Lehman Brothers' flow of news, as the big brokerage tries to avoid following Bear Stearns into the financial abyss. But among the leaders in good news, indicating superb management -- and perhaps being in the right place at the right time -- is natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) .
Monday's news was that Chesapeake has formed a joint venture with Goodrich Petroleum (NYSE: GDP ) , in which Chesapeake will pay Goodrich about $178 million for working interests in deep strata of the Bethany-Longstreet field of Caddo and DeSoto parishes in Louisiana. That is in the Haynesville Shale of East Texas and Louisiana, and Chesapeake already has told us that Haynesville will probably be a massive play.
That's a significant deal for Chesapeake. With less than two decades under its corporate belt, the company, as CEO Aubrey McClendon told us at the company's recent annual meeting, is on the verge of surpassing BP (NYSE: BP ) and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC ) to become the largest U.S. natural-gas producer. Chesapeake will probably stake that claim before your kids return to school in the fall.
For Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, the Barnett and the Fayetteville shales of Arkansas are already taking a back seat to the immense promise of the Haynesville. McClendon is still playing it close to the vest regarding specific Haynesville metrics, but he has said that the company has five rigs operating there, expects a minimum of 12 by year's end, and is looking for 30 or more by the finish of 2009.
But one key metric available on Chesapeake indicates why Fools would be well advised to keep a close eye on this Motley Fool Inside Value selection: A $1,000 investment at the time of the company's IPO 15 years ago would today be worth more than $50,000 today. The company's shares have appreciated by about 64% in just the past year.
All of this, along with the ascendancy of what McClendon calls "clean-burning, American-produced natural gas," has me watching Chesapeake closely. I hope my energy-investing Foolish friends will join me.
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