This Eagle Crosses Oceans

While the earthbound Golden Eagle lazes beneath the shade of an oak tree, a marine species of eagle has caught this Fool's attention.

Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE  ) reported record net time charter revenue of $37.2 million in the second quarter, a 31% increase year over year. Net income rose 25% to $14.9 million. With a 121% increase in the charter rate for one of the company's 'supramax' vessels, Eagle demonstrated the pricing strength that has characterized the industry in recent quarters.

Like competitors Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX  ) and Navios Maritime (NYSE: NM  ) , since May, Eagle Bulk Shipping's shares have taken a plunge along with dry bulk shipping rates, which could offer Fools a potentially attractive entry point. Eagle’s 7.5% dividend yield and forward P/E ratio of 8 are sweet enticements as well. Eagle is more than a value and income play, though. This company is chasing after some serious fleet expansion.

During the second quarter, Eagle acquired two supramax vessels at a cost of $146 million. Unlike Diana Shipping, which has focused its growth on much larger 'capesize' vessels, Eagle Bulk Shipping is building its niche in the supramax class. At about 55,000 deadweight tons, these vessels are less than one-third the size of Diana's behemoths.

The company took delivery of the first of 35 new supramax ships from China and Japan, with the rest slated for delivery between now and 2012. In the words of Chairman and CEO Sophocles Zoullas: "With the commencement of the deliveries of our newbuild vessels, Eagle Bulk is now on a rapid expansion phase which will see significantly enhanced growth in cashflow and earnings." Another vessel is scheduled for delivery in October and another in November, followed by nine more in 2009.

As I've stated previously, the ongoing global credit crunch is leading some companies to cancel their shipbuilding orders. By tracking a shipper's balance sheet, available credit, and prebooking of charter contracts for ships on order, Fools can ascertain which companies are best positioned to meet fleet expansion plans. With $63 million in cash, $934 million in available credit, and contracts booked for the vast majority of ships on order, Eagle Bulk Shipping aces this important Foolish test.

Further Foolishness:

The "dry bulk shipping" tag within Motley Fool CAPS lists 16 companies that site members have rated. Join our online community today, and share your views on the offerings in this sector or any other. CAPS is free and fun!

Fool contributor Christopher Barker captains yachts and writes about stocks. He can also be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns no shares in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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