If it's a method that is intended to return a boolean result then I would return a boolean. I only use chaining on methods that don't return a result.
If a false result is intended to indicate an error, I would throw an exception instead - so I wouldn't need to store $result.
For the style of code I write this problem wouldn't be an issue.
(also, the $object=undef is redundant. It would be collected at the end of scope regardless.)
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