(Updates share price)
By Liz Hampton
May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. shale producer Chesapeake Energy on Thursday agreed with an activist investor that its shares are undervalued, adding it is optimistic a share buyback program would help buoy its stock price.
Private equity fund Kimmeridge Energy Management on Wednesday disclosed to Reuters that it was building a stake in Chesapeake and in discussions with management about changes at the natural gas producer.
The company takes minority stakes in companies and pushes management for changes to improve results. It said that Chesapeake was underperforming natural gas rivals.
Shares of Chesapeake, which emerged from bankruptcy in February 2021, were down about 4% on Thursday morning to $91.21 each.
Chesapeake's chief executive on Thursday said it had talked with Kimmeridge about its Eagle Ford oil-producing assets. Its oil properties draw focus and cash away from more promising natural gas acreage, Kimmeridge maintains.
The Oklahoma City-based producer had halted drilling in the south Texas shale play during the pandemic-driven oil price collapse, but resumed activity late last year, CEO Nick Dell'Osso said.
Chesapeake will likely exhaust its current $1 billion share buyback program early and seek board approval for additional repurchases, Dell'Osso told investors during an earnings call.
The company also said it continued to hold discussions with counterparties in the liquefied natural gas market. Chesapeake has said it would look for a larger role with LNG producers.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver Editing by Marguerita Choy)