Chesapeake Energy ’s stock price had been floundering at $17 per share for weeks, but shareholders were finally rewarded with a run-up this week after a gold-plated second-quarter earnings report.

The stock reached $20 per share on Aug. 8, 2012, after the natural gas giant reported total revenues rising 2.1% on a year-to-year basis, to $3.3 billion.

Most analysts pegged Chesapeake’s earnings growth much lower. Zacks Investment Research , for example, estimated total revenues of $1.89 billion, a figure that Chesapeake easily surpassed in the second quarter.

Zacks also offers some other takeaways from Chesapeake’s earnings report:

Missed earnings estimate – CHK earnings clocked in at 6 cents per share, missing the Zacks estimate of 8 cents, and was down considerably from the 76-cents-per-share performance in the second quarter of 2011. Analysts say that’s largely because of falling natural gas prices for the last half of 211 and the first quarter of 2012. But natural gas prices are rising again, and Chesapeake is a big beneficiary of those stronger prices.

Production soared (especially natural gas) - The company’s average daily production in the quarter increased nearly 25% on a year-to-year basis, Zacks reported. What’s more, natural gas accounted for 79% of that production growth.

Expenses up - Production expenses increased more than 3% when compared with the same period last year. Chesapeake also ended the quarter with had a cash balance of $1,024 million. Debt balance stood at $14,329 million, representing a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 42.0% (vs. 44.2% in the preceding quarter).

Cash flow decreases - Operating cash flow decreased 25.8% year over year to $895 million.

Selling assets – Chesapeake is in the midst of a major asset selloff of its natural gas options, primarily to make up for a whopping $22 billion revenue shortfall. Up for sale is Chesapeake Midstream Partners (a 46% stake was just sold at $2 billion to Global Infrastructure Partners), Chesapeake Midstream Partners and its stake in the Barnett Shale in Texas.

Overall, Zacks says that Chesapeake’s recent winning streak should continue into the third quarter, noting its profitable move into natural gas liquids. But that growth could be curbed by any negative volatility in natural gas prices, according to the firm’s analysts.

This from Zacks in an Aug. 7 research note about CHK:

“We appreciate Chesapeake’s initiative of deploying more funds toward liquids, like its peers -- Range