Update: it appears Carl Icahn agrees with our assessment: CARL ICAHN SAYS CHESAPEAKE'S COLLECTION OF ASSETS "ARE THE BEST PORTFOLIO OF ENERGY ASSETS IN THE COUNTRY"
Back in May 2012, when Reuters' all out aggressive campaign against Chesapeake Energy was in full swing and the stock was trading around $14 per share but before Icahn and Loeb were publicly involved, we predicted that contrary to the endless balance sheet bashing there was, in fact, much upside to CHK. We said that the argument rests on one simple fact: its asset base, which ignoring the firm's liabilities - as in a ZIRP environment, even CHK could easily refi its debt at very agreeable terms - and the CEO's lousy industry reputation implied a far higher stock price for the company. To wit: "the company has lots of good assets, as well as quite a few legacy liabilities, combined with an industry environment that is as bad as it has ever been. And sure enough, in betting that the environment might actually improve for a change, there are quite a few big firms which may be happy to onboard the assets and the liabilities, knowing they wouldn't impair the right side of their balance sheet, while acquiring some good real estate and substantial reserves on the left, at a valuation that is the cheapest in the industry. Because in finance, once central planning is (finally) stripped away, valuation is all that matters." And even before that, a far more immediate catalyst we predicted would be a simple succession event "which eventually will culminate with the long overdue termination of the company's head." Or, said simply, the sacking or resignation of the disgraced CEO would unlock material upside value. Moments ago just this happened, as the company just announced a "succession plan" the direct result of which is that the CEO is out as of April 1. The upside value in question: just about 10% as the stock is currently soaring in the after hours session.