Update September 27, 2016 Earlier this month Carl Icahn cut his position in Chesapeake Energy (CHK) by more than half. Nothing to worry about for other shareholders, he said. The sale was for tax reasons.
Well, today that “Move along. Nothing to see here” explanation is harder to believe. The company announced that Vincent Intrieri, a senior managing director at Icahn Capital and Icahn’s only board member at Chesapeake, had resigned from the board of directors, as of September 26.
Chesapeake shares fell 5.89% today to close at $6.23, down from a local high of $8.05 on September 12.
The fear motivating the sell off is, of course, that Icahn, who still owns 35.3 million Chesapeake shares (or 4.55% of shares outstanding) will sell the rest of his stake and push share prices down further.
Adding to the downside momentum is profit taking after a decent rally in natural gas prices as energy traders bet that a cold winter would push up the price of the commodity. Natural gas had climbed from a low of $1.666 per million BTUs on Mrch 4 to $3.047 on September 20. Natural gas settled at $2.99 today.
I think the important Chesapeake Energy story is an improving balance sheet as the company sells assets to reduce debt and stretches out maturities on that debt. Nothing in the short-term volatility of natural gas changes the direction of that story. I’d use what looks to be normal profit taking by traders to increase positions in the stock, especially if the shares break through support at the 50-day moving average now at $6.03 and head toward support at the 200-day average at $4.65.
Chesapeake Energy is a member of my long-term 50 Stocks portfolio.