Not a Dry Ship in the House

Following a particularly moving theatrical performance, it's often said that there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Well, this quarter DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS  ) moved its fleet so deftly that there was hardly a dry ship in the house.

The dry bulk (and aspiring deepwater drilling) titan racked up a fleet utilization rate of 99% in the period. Only one vessel was drydocked, which is the removal of a ship from the water in order to inspect and repair the underwater portion. This utilization rate, combined with soaring voyage rates and an ever-expanding fleet, led shipping revenue to more than double the prior year's result.

While DryShips has in the past borne one of the highest exposures to spot market rates, the company is increasingly embracing long-term fixtures. We've seen a similar shift at Excel Maritime (NYSE: EXM  ) , and it's a sensible move, given the attractive cash streams that these operators are able to lock in for many years to come. All of DryShips' "capesize" vessels -- the largest ship category -- are now time chartered, with three fixtures extending to 2018.

Lest you think this time chartering makes DryShips dreary, there are avenues for upside. Front and center is the deepwater drilling segment. The Leiv Erikssson, currently working for Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) (NYSE: RDS-B  ) , is one of very few such rigs with availability in 2009. I wouldn't be surprised to see this semisubmersible pull down a dayrate north of $700,000. That would eclipse even Transocean's (NYSE: RIG  ) record rate.

Just when you think you have DryShips figured out, the company goes off the deep end. It's hard for me to make projections about the company's future, but the track record here suggests that DryShips will continue to leave profits in its wake.

DryShips is rated a soggy two stars in Motley Fool CAPS. Think this company's a seafaring savior, or worth no more than a barnacle on a whale's behind? Weigh in with your own outlook right here.

Fool contributor Toby Shute is active in CAPS under the moniker TMFSmashy, but doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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