Chesapeake Energy Corporation's (NYSE:CHK) recent second-quarter report was filled with surprises. While its financial results were in line with expectations, the company's outlook and future plans were not. Here's a look at three surprising things the company unveiled to investors in its report.
1. Surprise: We're boosting our production guidance
During the second quarter, Chesapeake Energy's production averaged 703,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or BOE/d. That was 13% higher than the year-ago quarter, and up 2% sequentially when adjusted for asset sales. While that was a solid result, the surprise came from the company's outlook for the full year, which it's actually increasing.
The company now expects production to average 667,000-677,000 BOE/d, which is 4% higher than the midpoint of its previous guidance. That's surprising for two reasons.
First of all, the company is voluntarily curtailing 50,000 BOE/d of production in the Utica Shale, which is a drag on production. Further, the increase is coming despite the fact the company is keeping its capex budget at its previous range of $3.5 billion-$4 billion for the year. Instead, what's driving the better-than-expected production growth is a combination of strong well results, as well as reduced well costs.
2. Surprise: We're thinking about selling more assets
Despite talk that the company might use its $2 billion cash position and a further $4 billion in borrowing capacity on its credit facility to buy cash flowing oil-rich assets during the downturn, Chesapeake Energy is instead considering more asset sales. The company believes that potential asset sales could unlock the value of some of its assets. Further, proceeds from any asset sales would be used to fund additional drilling in 2016, as well as enhancing the company's capital structure.
3. Surprise: We're looking for development partners
In addition to asset sales, Chesapeake Energy is also considering joint ventures or other drilling partnerships. Such transactions could also unlock the value of the company's assets, as well as provide it with more cash to fund its 2016 capex budget.
According to an article by Bloomberg, Chesapeake is said to be leaning toward joint ventures instead of outright asset sales. That's because these partnerships would enable the company's engineers, geologists, and physicists to take the lead in developing the fields that they have been studying for years.
Further, the company said it's not worried about seeking partners at a low point in the downturn because these partners will value the assets based on potential production, as well as the low-cost nature of its assets. In its mind, the company has some of the best assets in the country, and therefore potential partners will want to work with Chesapeake to develop these assets.
Chesapeake Energy was full of surprises during the second quarter. Topping the list is the fact that the company surprisingly raised its full-year production outlook despite some production being curtailed, and the fact it's not spending any additional money. On top of that, the company also surprised investors by saying it's considering more asset sales, as well as seeking financial partners, as it explores ways to both unlock the value of its assets and fund more wells.
Given the fact that oil and gas prices remain weak due to an oversupplied market, the company's plans are a head scratcher. It simply doesn't make a whole lot of sense to grow production when the market already has more than it needs.