Shares of U.S. exploration and production company Antero Resources (NYSE:AR) jumped as much as 12% on Jan. 11. Holding firm to most of the gain, the stock was up by 11% or so at 2:30 p.m. EST. Company news was the key driver.
Some background here is important. Antero Resources, like so many U.S.-focused drillers, has a fairly leveraged balance sheet. Its financial debt-to-equity ratio is around three times versus roughly 0.25 times for integrated energy goliath Chevron. Thus, dealing with debt is a big issue for Antero, given the lingering low prices for oil and natural gas (though they are well off of the lows witnessed during early 2020).
That background helps to provide context for investor optimism today, as Antero Resources announced plans to issue $500 million worth of debt, due in 2029, in a private placement transaction. The new debt will help the company retire debt due in 2022, effectively giving the driller more breathing room on its balance sheet. With oil prices having moved above key price levels recently and coronavirus vaccines starting to be widely disseminated, investors were clearly pleased that Antero had dealt with this near-term maturity. Effectively, it has additional leeway while it awaits a more significant sector recovery as economic activity returns from the shutdowns being used to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The energy industry is notoriously volatile and so are the companies that operate within it, including Antero. Although pushing out a near-term maturity is, indeed, a positive development, investors shouldn't read too much into one day's price move. Mercurial investors have moved the stocks here higher and lower, often in rollercoaster-like fashion, based on industry news, company news, economic news, and coronavirus news. Antero shareholders should probably be pleased with the news today, but that doesn't mean that the stock won't trade lower again once the excitement wears off.