In my increasingly distant college days, I remember one accounting class with an unusually demanding professor, which began each summer day at 7 a.m. Exams, however, started at 6:30 -- that's a.m. -- since the professor maintained that he couldn't give a creditable test in the mere 90 minutes allotted for the class.

That was tough, but I've been eternally grateful for his no-slack approach to teaching. I now can gain some sense of understanding from complex releases, such as Chesapeake Energy's (NYSE:CHK) first-quarter report, issued on Thursday. Let's look at some items that may interest Foolish investors.

First, Chesapeake did report an after-tax mark-to-market loss of $193 million relating to its oil and natural gas and interest-rate hedging program. As management points out, "This type of item is typically not included in published estimates of the company's financial results by certain securities analysts." It's also not included in the estimates of uncertain analysts, who tend to be far more common.

Beyond that, the company's production in the quarter reached 153.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (bcfe), up 12.4% from 136.8 bcfe a year earlier. It was made up of about 92% gas, with the rest being oil. The natural-gas equivalent realized price was $9.33, down 2.8% from the $9.60 last year. Excluding the hedging loss, adjusted net income in the quarter was $425 million, or $0.87 a share, compared with $444 million, or $1.07 a share.

Perhaps more importantly, the company's estimated future net cash flows -- arrived at through arcane oil and gas accounting methods and discounted at a pre-tax annual rate of 10% (PV-10) -- was $20.2 billion; that's up nearly 49% from the comparable $13.6 billion PV-10 forecast as recently as the end of 2006. But don't get the idea that reserves have grown by about 50% just since December. PV-10 cash flow projections are heavily dependent upon price estimates, and those estimates for both oil and gas have risen substantially in just the past quarter.

In releasing the company's March results, management also affirmed the previous forecast that total 2007 production for the company would grow by 14% to 18%. The current forecast for 2008 is for growth of 10% to 14%.

So, Fools, Chesapeake is a somewhat complicated company, but I also judge it to be an unusually solid entity. And while I typically recommend that you load up your portfolios with such international companies as ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), I'd clearly be remiss in not urging you to give careful attention to an investment in a quality independent producer like Chesapeake Energy.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does own shares in Schlumberger but not in the other companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.