Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. surged 2.2% in premarket trade Thursday, after the oil and natural gas exploration and production company matched fourth-quarter profit expectations and said it expected rig counts to grow this year. For the quarter to Dec. 31, the company reported a loss of $741 million, or 84 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.22 billion, or $3.36 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, such as unrealized losses on commodity derivatives and on exchange of preferred stock, adjusted earnings per share came to 7 cents, in line with the FactSet consensus. Revenue fell to $2.02 billion from $2.65 billion, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $2.04 billion. Oil equivalent production fell to 53 million barrels of oil equivalent from 61 million. The average rig count for 2016 declined to 10 from 28 in 2015, but is expected to climb to 16 to 18 in 2017. The stock has lost 11% over the past three months through Wednesday, while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF has slipped 2.4% and the S&P 500 has gained 7.2%.
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