Chesapeake fourth quarter profit tops Street, shares rise

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Thu Feb 21, 2013 — Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates on Thursday, helped by lower-than-expected expenses and more profitable oil production.

Shares of Chesapeake rose nearly 2 percent to $20.60 before the start of regular trading.

The earnings report came a day after Chesapeake said an internal investigation of the financial dealings of its outgoing chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, found no “intentional” wrongdoing.

McClendon is stepping down in April following a tumultuous year during which the company faced a liquidity crunch and a governance crisis. Now Chesapeake’s board and big shareholders are working to rein in spending, pay down debt and increase production of more profitable oil.

McClendon, who founded the company in 1989, was not quoted in the earnings release as he typically is.

Phil Weiss, an analyst with Argus Research, said expenses in a number of areas came in below his projections while cash flow was higher than he anticipated.