I've already revealed that I have a crush on Diana, and suggested that Charles Darwin himself would have been smitten with her adaptive prowess.
I'm speaking, of course, about Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX ) .
Diana, a dry bulk shipper, made a profit after a challenging second quarter, matching analyst expectations with earnings of $30.4 million. A 31% decline in the average charter rate to $33,073 per day, plus a marginal increase in idle operating days, yielded a copycat 31% drop in revenue. Diana's fleet utilization rate of 99.1% highlights the importance of long-term charters during a major market disruption, although smaller operator Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE ) outpaced Diana by keeping ships moving on 99.7% of available days.
Great navigators must be able to predict the weather with accuracy, however, and Diana is not shy about sharing her forecast. Alongside fellow bellwethers Nucor (NYSE: NUE ) and Joy Global (Nasdaq: JOYG ) , Diana's management stands out from the pack with a penchant for straight talk. Offering a timely reminder for investors consumed by understandable recovery hopes, CEO Simeon Palios warns that "the difficult phase of the cycle is far from over."
Accordingly, Diana remains in lockdown mode, making no additions to a conservative order book of just two new vessels under construction. Competitor Navios Maritime Holdings (NYSE: NM ) , by contrast, stepped up its growth spurt recently by ordering four additional vessels atop the seven already pending. With an estimated mind-boggling 50 million deadweight tons of dry bulk capacity scheduled to enter service in 2009, I share Diana President Anastassis Margaronis' concern (expressed last quarter) that oversupply of new vessels will present tremendous challenges to the industry.
Despite the temptation to dive into dry bulk as China continues to hoard raw materials and American industrial giants perceive a bottom, I have not altered my fundamental view that physical survival remains the overarching priority for dry bulkers until we see how this global fleet expansion will be absorbed. I view debt-laden operators like Excel Maritime Carriers (NYSE: EXM ) and DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS ) with particular concern.
With more cash on hand than long-term debt, and the most conservative strategic stance I've observed in the industry, Diana is prepped for survival. She may not be flashy or prone to comforting rhetoric, but she's beautiful in this Fool's eyes.