What happened

Chesapeake Energy (OTC:CHKA.Q) stock plunged after reporting earnings Thursday, closing the day down 7.4%.

So what

Don't blame Chesapeake, though. This time, it really wasn't the company's fault. On Thursday, Chesapeake reported 41% year-over-year sales growth and $0.08 in net income per diluted share -- a huge turnaround for the company after losing $1.66 per share in the year-ago quarter. Sales came in at $2.75 billion, well ahead of Wall Street's predicted $2.32 billion.

Speaking of the Street, pro forma profits, which are what interests Wall Street most, were similarly stellar. Chesapeake's "adjusted income per share" was $0.23, $0.04 ahead of analysts' expectations of $0.19.

Stock chart crashing through floor.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

None of that mattered to investors, though. Chesapeake, you see, credited "an increase in the average realized commodity prices" for helping its profits in its fiscal Q1 2017. But at the same time as Chesapeake was announcing its good news, global oil prices dropped below $46 today -- and Chesapeake stock is being punished for that.

This seems unfair -- but may actually not be. After all, if strong oil prices helped Chesapeake last quarter, then weaker prices could just as easily hurt it this quarter. Even management's promise to grow "adjusted production" by as much as 4% this year may not be enough to overcome oil prices that have fallen 15% over the past three weeks -- and not enough to ensure Chesapeake can earn a profit this year.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.