Which Dividend-Paying Dry Shippers Won George Soros's Approval?

Nothing feels better to dry shipping investors than having a megabillionaire join the party. In a filing with the SEC, George Soros's fund revealed its investment in each of four dividend-paying dry shipping stocks of varying size. And the one he invested the most in may surprise you.

Each quarter, Soros Fund Management reports its holdings, including which stocks it bought and sold. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the fund bought 122 new stocks, with investments ranging in size from as little as $139,148 worth to considerably more than $400 million. Overall, the fund appears to be well-diversified.

Soros's investments in dividend-paying dry shippers are relatively small, but they're an encouraging start. The fund went from owning zero dry-shipping stocks at all prior to this past quarter to suddenly purchasing several of them. This suggests a shift in bullish sentiment to the industry, and leaves open the possibility that the fund will further invest in the space.

The smallest holding
Soros's smallest purchase was $139,148 worth, or 20,463 shares, of Safe Bulkers (NYSE: SB  ) . This was also the smallest new position out of the 122 new holdings. While something is better than nothing, that meager stake -- little more than a rounding error -- doesn't suggest much of a vote of confidence.

Still, investors should continue to watch, since it's possible that this is only the start of a much larger position being accumulated. That would be bullish for Safe Bulkers specifically, and dry shipping as a whole. Safe Bulkers pays a $0.06-per-share quarterly dividend, for an annual yield of just over 3%.

A little bigger
The Soros fund purchased $396,100 worth, or 55,632 shares, of Navios Maritime Holdings (NYSE: NM  ) . This is nearly three times the size of Soros's Safe Bulkers stake, which suggests the fund is more confident in Navios's prospects. Navios Maritime Holdings also pays a $0.06-per-share quarterly dividend, with an annual yield just under 3%.

Even bigger
The Soros fund purchased $575,064 worth, or 117,600 shares, of Baltic Trading Limited (NYSE: BALT  ) . Intriguingly, Baltic Trading Limited only pays a $0.02-per-share quarterly dividend, for an annual yield less than 2%. This is less of a payout than Soros' smaller Safe Bulkers and Navios Maritime Holdings stakes offer, which suggests that the fund may believe Baltic Trading Limited's dividends will ultimately rise more quickly than those of the other two shippers.

The largest holding
The biggest dividend-paying dry shipper that the Soros fund owns is Navios Maritime Partners (NYSE: NMM  ) , after a $784,704 purchase of 53,600 shares.

Navios Maritime Partners has by far the highest dividend and yield of the group. It pays a quarterly dividend of $0.4425 per share for a yield of over 10%. Navios Maritime Partners has indicated in its most recent conference call that it is committed to paying at least that much in dividend through the end of 2014 and possible more.

Its CEO, Angeliki Frangou, stated, "We believe that in time, investors will find Navios Partners' yield extremely attractive." She was right. Apparently, Soros finds the yield more attractive than other dividend-paying dry shippers. If she knew about his purchases, Frangou may have been giving the market a wink.

Foolish final thoughts
Look for these dry shippers to continue to pay these dividends -- and possibly increase them. Further investment from George Soros may also help rejuvenate dry shipping stocks, so keep a close eye on his holdings. His fund has a long history of great success resulting from intense research, and he has a large following. If he raises his investment in dry shipping significantly, that could be a bullish sign for the whole sector. 


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