Surprise-Seekers Must Love DryShips

Just when you start thinking this stock may never stem its downward trajectory, along comes Curious George with a wildly profitable quarter that spawns an abrupt relief rally.

For Fools who love surprises, DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS  ) certainly delivers.

You thought you were investing in the dry bulk industry? Surprise: DryShips generated more revenue from its ultra-deepwater drillships than it did from its dry bulk segment. Shareholders also have another surprise to look forward to, as they remain in the dark on the timing of a promised IPO for the Ocean Rig subsidiary.

You thought the company was done tapping the equity market for capital after a horrendous spate of shareholder dilution in recent years? Perhaps COO Pankaj Khanna's reassuring comments to the Fool's own Jennifer Schonberger back in January -- where he cited copious cash reserves and asked rhetorically, "Why would we issue equity at this time?" -- prompted you to let your guard down. Surprise: Dryships' unrestricted cash position has slipped 47% through the first nine months of 2010. Double-surprise: The company rather quietly issued 36.9 million shares during October and November of 2010!

If you have the distinct misfortune of having held DryShips shares for the past couple of years, and you haven't been tracking the share count, you may be in for the biggest shock of all. Whatever your ownership stake in the company was at year-end 2008, you can divide that value by about 5.3 to calculate your current percentage stake in Curious George's corporate empire.

I enjoyed a surprise of my own thanks to DryShips' profitable third quarter. Back in May, I initiated a highly speculative outperform call for DryShips within my Motley Fool CAPS portfolio, arguing that a sharp sell-off in the shares would spur yet another near-term rally. Surprise: After six long months, I was finally able to close my gamble for a modest, fictional gain.

For Fools who are less fond of surprises, a range of safer opportunities exists to position oneself for a long-awaited normalization of the dry bulk shipping industry. Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX  ) remains the commensurate low-risk darling of the fleet, while Navios Maritime Holdings (NYSE: NM  ) navigates the middle ground between risk and potential reward. With pure-play exposure to the spot market for vessel charter rates, Genco Shipping & Trading (NYSE: GNK  ) spin-off Baltic Trading (NYSE: BALT  ) is an attractive, high-yielding way to play.

DryShips may well surprise this Fool, and find its long-lost footing as demand for drill ships improves because the surprises never seem to stop. However, I for one will not be aboard.

I have chosen Diana Shipping and Baltic Trading for a two-pronged exposure to long-term recovery in the dry bulk industry, and I am eager to hear whether some of my fellow Fools are also patiently long in the dry bulk space. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and consider revealing your picks to the community by adding them to your CAPS portfolio. To track more Foolish analysis of the industry, enter the relevant tickers into your watchlist.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Baltic Trading and Diana Shipping. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool's disclosure policy can hold its breath underwater while a cargo ship passes overhead.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2010, at 10:12 PM, mumb0xjumb0 wrote:

    so are you saying that DryShips is not a good investment?

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2010, at 8:46 AM, myopin99 wrote:

    Fine. Don't be on board. Why would I listen to someone who invests fictional monies. Besides, you're being paid to 'bash' dryships, you've been doing so for years.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2010, at 9:34 AM, panimj wrote:

    If your not on board then stop posting about DRYS and post about the stocks you are on board with, this is nothing but bashing drys.

    Hope they don't pay you to much.Getting really tired of reaing your idiotic posts

  • Report this Comment On November 21, 2010, at 9:57 PM, akamaiusa wrote:

    I take a chance with 7% of my money in DRYS, the bigest fish I have ever cought was near the shore..., so be it

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2010, at 8:45 AM, lbrown1011 wrote:

    Couldn't agree more. This guy gets on here and writes nothing but negativity. Even when positive news (contracts on drilling rigs) comes out, he finds a way to spin it negatively for the company. I'm the first to say that I'm not happy with some of the moves DRYS has made in the past. But they have made some strategically smart moves, none of which Motley writers EVER give them credit for making. I'd love to see the DRYS PUT history of these guys. They get on here and bashes the stock when it ticks up a little and then, well, you know. Could be wrong but everything these guys write makes one wonder about their true motives.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2010, at 10:08 AM, umavarikuti wrote:

    Christopher,

    thanks for bringing the share dilution issue to our notice. I agree with you that this is an unpleasant surprise and I may be exiting from holding my modest position in DRYS - lack of transparency is a harbinger of troubles to come. It's quite possible that DRYS may as well double or tripple in a year or two. But it's still a gamble but not intelligent investing.

    Thanks again!! Articles like these is the reason I am a paid subscriber to Motely Fool services.

    One question - how can I find share count information that can be tracked as a function of time?

    -eContrarian.

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