* Chesapeake Q2 EPS $0.62 vs $0.51 estimate
* Shares flat post market
* Sees $2.35 bln to $3.05 bln in ‘09 asset deals
* Raises 2009 drilling budget (Adds analyst comment, background, updates shares)
HOUSTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.N) reported a quarterly profit on Monday compared with year-ago loss as a $597 million gain from hedging boosted results in a period when natural gas prices fell more than 60 percent.
Chesapeake shares initially gained after the results, but traded later around the New York Stock Exchange close of $22.36.
The company also said it planned to boost liquidity and reduce debt by selling billions of dollars of leasehold properties and midstream assets this year and next.
Chesapeake, which is the one of the largest producers of natural gas in the United States, expects to raise $2.35 billion to $3.05 billion in 2009 through the sale of assets or production deals.
Natural gas prices tumbled more than 60 percent from a year ago in the second quarter as the global recession hurt demand and pushed stockpiles to record levels for this time of year. In response, producers have shut in production and idled drilling rigs.
So some investors may take a negative view of a projected hike in Chesapeake’s 2009 drilling budget, said Joe Magner, analyst with Tristone Capital Inc.
In 2009 Chesapeake said it plans to spend $3 billion to $3.2 billion on drilling, up $300 million from its prior forecast.
Net profit in the second quarter was $237 million, or 39 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.64 billion, or $3.16 per share.
Excluding items, Chesapeake had a profit of $377 million, or 62 cents per share, above Wall Street analysts’ average estimate of 51 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue was $1.673 billion, short of analysts’ average estimate of $1.978 billion. (Additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Steve Orlofsky) (Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; editing by Andre Grenon)