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Chesapeake: Triumph of the Optimists

Six months ago, Chesapeake Energy CHK -1.77 % found itself with a tiny market value despite its vast oil and gas acreage. The market underestimated that the company’s efforts to buy itself time could create a virtuous cycle.

Since a story made the rounds in February that Chesapeake had hired bankruptcy counsel, investors who realized the company’s chances of survival were significantly higher than zero have done well. Chesapeake’s shares are valued now at four times as much as in...