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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.