Stupid Stock Move of the Day! Chesapeake up? Can Icahn really save?May 25, 2012: 4:08 PM ET
#StupidStock move of the day! $CHK up nearly 3% as the Icahn rumor just won't die. Even if he does invest, fundamentals look unappealing.—
Paul R. La Monica (@LaMonicaBuzz) May 25, 2012
Update! 4:08 p.m. Carl Icahn does own a piece of troubled Chesapeake Energy (CHK). It's official. He disclosed a 7.56% stake in a SEC filing after the bell on Friday. Traders were speculating about this all day Friday. Chesapeake closed the day up 1.4%. And it was on heavy volume, a notable sign given how sleepy trading was heading into the long Memorial Day weekend.
But so what? Icahn's track record is far from perfect. Sure, the Google (GOOG)-Motorola Mobility deal paid out nicely. But Lionsgate (LGF) anyone? Or Clorox? (CLX) Or Yahoo? (YHOO) So it's hardly a guarantee that Icahn would be able to agitate for the type of changes disgruntled investors might want, such as a potential ouster of controversial CEO Aubrey McClendon and/or sale of the entire company.
In what's a typical move for Icahn, he also filed a copy of a letter sent to Chesapeake's board with the SEC. In it, he said he recently had dinner with McClendon, but added that he thinks the board still has a credibility gap. Icahn said that naming a new chairman to replace McClendon will not be enough and demanded that at least four directors should be immediately replaced. Still, Icahn has often faced resistance from corporate boards and investors.
Yes, there were other factors lifting Chesapeake today. It did agree to put some assets in Wyoming and Colorado on the shopping block. CNBC and Reuters also both reported that BlackRock (BLK) has increased its investment in Chesapeake. But once again, I say so what? BlackRock is a respected money manager. But so are Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. They both made big bets on Facebook (FB). How's that investment working out for the average retail investor?
Following the big money -- whether it is an activist like Icahn or a more passive institution like BlackRock -- is not always wise. The bottom line with Chesapeake is that low natural gas prices will continue to hurt it. And McClendon remains a major albatross on the stock. If you want to support Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, you might be better off spending your money on playoff tickets for the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. While it's not yet clear if Icahn can save Chesapeake, Kevin Durant is the real deal.