Oil producers and merchants increased their short position in WTI by 3.8% for the week ended May 10 to the highest since September 2011. As BLoomberg writes, "oil producers are taking advantage of the rebound in crude markets to lock in protection against another slump." Energy companies from EOG Resources Corp. to Chesapeake Energy Corp. used financial instruments such as futures, swaps and collars to guard against another fall in prices. West Texas Intermediate oil, the benchmark U.S. crude, has gained more than 75 percent since hitting a 12-year low in mid-February.
Today the stock of CHK is surging following the good news that contrary to some expectations, it did not lose access to its $4 billion line of credit. However, that came at a cost: to preserve its full $4 billion availability, Chesapeake was forced to pledge almost all of its natural gas fields, real estate and derivatives contracts. In addition to most of its gas and oil reserves, Chesapeake pledged as collateral all hedge contracts, property, deposit accounts and securities, subject to certain undisclosed carve-outs, according to the regulatory filing. In other words, the entire company.
- Global stocks, oil dip, but markets calm down as growth fears ease (Reuters)
- Greece cannot carry migrant burden on its own: PM Tsipras (Reuters)
- New Migrant Crisis Flares in Greece (WSJ)
- Qatar's BeIn Media buys U.S. film studio Miramax (Reuters)
- Nanny who beheaded Russian girl cites revenge for Putin's Syria strikes (Reuters)
Just one day after the DOJ unveiled its had indicted Chesapeake Founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon on federal charges of conspiring to rig bids for oil and natural gas leases, moments ago the Oklahoma Police announced that he was found dead in a car accident, when while traveling in a 2013 Chevy Tahoe at a high rate of speed he crashed while driving on a two-lane highway and was engulfed in flames.
- Shares fall with oil prices, yen in demand (Reuters)
- Trump's third straight win has rivals looking for answers (Reuters)
- How Marco Rubio Blunted Ted Cruz—and Boosted Donald Trump (BBG)
- Donald Trump Seals GOP Front-Runner Status With Nevada Win (WSJ)
- Fischer says no Fed plan to move to negative interest rates (Reuters)
- Lew Says Don't Expect `Crisis Response' From Group of 20 Meeting (BBG)
Thirteen activist investors with the largest fund exposure to the energy sector have suffered a combined $9.2 billion in unrealized paper losses in 2015, according to quarterly filings analyzed by hedge fund data firm Symmetric.io. But nobody's combined loss is as big as that of Carl Icahn.
CHESAPEAKE SAID PLANNING TO PAY $500 MILLION DEBT DUE IN MARCH
The saga of the gas giant Aubrey McClendon's built, Chesapeake Energy, enters its endgame, when moments ago following a Debtwire report that the company has hired Kirkland and Ellis as its restructuring/bankruptcy attorney - typically a step taken just weeks ahead of a formal Chapter 11 filing - the stock has plunged 22% to $2.40, the lowest price in the 21st century, and for all intents and purposes, ever.
While energy E&P companies were dropping like flies in 2015, credit rating agencies and banks have remained awfully quiet....
As we said two days ago when looking at the paltry recoveries on their total debt that bankrupt energy debtors are generating in liquidation and bankruptcy asset sales, "the energy bankruptcy party is only just starting." And sure enough, overnight we learned that another company is preparing to throw in the towel following a Reuters report that SandRidge Energy - a shale oil and gas producer in the Mid-Continent region of the U.S. - is exploring debt restructuring options, "as the heavily indebted U.S. oil and gas exploration and production company struggles with the fallout from plunging energy prices."
With Chesapeake Energy hitting its lowest stock price since 2000 earlier this week, it was only a matter of time before US gas giant Chesapeake halted all "discretionary" cash payments, which it did moments ago when it announced it would halt dividend payments on its preferred stock.
After the lifting of sanctions in Iran this week, expectations for increased oil output has put further pressure on oil prices with both Brent and West Texas Intermediate prices dropping to the lowest levels seen this century. In the US, embattled producers are finally being forced to consider ceasing production as banks reign in on credit lines for fear of rising bad debts.
My overriding theme and the central drama for the coming year is that unexpected events can take on greater importance as the Federal Reserve ends its near-decade-long Zero Interest Rate Policy. Consensus premises and forecasts will likely fall flat, in a rather spectacular manner. The low-conviction and directionless market that we saw in 2015 could become a no-conviction and very-much-directed market (i.e. one that's directed lower) in 2016. There will be no peace on earth in 2016, and our markets could lose a cushion of protection as valuations contract. (Just as "malinvestment" represented a key theme this year, we expect a compression of price-to-earnings ratios to serve as a big market driver in 2016.) In other words, we don't think 2016 will be fun.
Chesapeake has hired restructuring advisor Evercore "to shore up its balance sheet as commodity prices extend their decline." This means that Evercore will seek to further slash its debt, almost certainly be equitizing a substantial portion of it, and handing it over as equity in the new company to CHK's bondholders. As a result the company's 2023 bonds, which were trading at par as recently as late May, just rumbled to a record low 27 cents on the dollar.
Until pro-growth, low taxation and less regulation policy changes are enacted, we don’t foresee any changes to central bank policy nor the unsustainable market divergences and asset price distortions. Expect more media propaganda on how great the economy is while the reality is another story. Early signs are that retail sales this holiday season are poor. Nobody can predict when reality will set in and equity markets revert back to pre QE levels in 2008/09. The longer this charade continues, the lower equity markets will eventually go, and in the short-term so will commodities. Then the super cycle in commodities will begin anew. Much this will hinge on next fall’s election cycle.