Which Dry Shippers Lost George Soros' Approval?

You may be surprised by the change in holdings by Soros.

Feb 23, 2014 at 12:31PM

Back in November, George Soros revealed that he accumulated positions in dry shipping companies Baltic Trading Limited (NYSE:BALT), Diana Shipping (NYSE:DSX), DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS), Navios Maritime Holdings, Navios Maritime Partners (NYSE:NMM), and Safe Bulkers (NYSE:SB). Last Friday, we learned that three of these got tossed overboard, yet Soros' overall exposure to dry shipping actually increased. How could this be? The answer may surprise you.

Soros

George Soros Source: GeorgeSoros.com

It can be quite exciting or equally disheartening to hear of a billionaire like George Soros buying or selling one of your investments, or multiple stocks in the same industry. Even though his actual exposure to the dry shipping stocks won't make or break Soros' bank, his approval or lack thereof shown by the size of any position can help sway some investors' confidence.

Dropped these like a bad habit
The largest position of the six in the last filing was that of DryShips. Soros previously owned 590,278 shares of DryShips worth over $2 million. It was the largest position represented by nearly 40% of his roughly $5 million exposure to dry shipping. Now, all of those shares have been sold and are gone.

Two other positions Soros tossed out the side of the boat are all of his shares of Navios Maritime Partners and Baltic Trading Limited. He owned 53,600 shares worth $785,000 of the former and 117,600 shares worth $575,000 of the latter. Interestingly, these two are the two biggest dividend-paying positions he held in dry shipping.  

Holding these steady
For Diana Shipping and Navios Maritime Holdings, Soros' position in these remained unchanged. He still holds 77,492 shares of Diana Shipping and 55,632 shares of Navios Maritime Holdings. The value of these holdings through sheer stock price rises has gone up between the periods by 10% and 30% respectively.

Increased position
Safe Bulkers represents a great example as to why it's a good idea to pay attention to the holdings of mega investors like Soros no matter how small their individual positions are. While Soros was dumping DryShips, Navios Maritime Partners, and Baltic Trading Limited in their entirety, he was also busy increasing his position in Safe Bulkers by over 20 times the number of shares.

I had previously mentioned in my last article on Soros that "[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." His Safe Bulker position in terms of value grew from $0.139 million to $4.373 million, due to a combination of a rise in market price and accumulating 20 times as many shares. Safe Bulkers represents more than double the value of what Soros previously held in DryShips.

Though his position in Safe Bulkers is the largest weighted of this group, it doesn't even hold a candle to his newest and biggest holding. There is a new kid on the block that had its IPO last December and became Soros' largest dry shipping stock.

The newest and biggest position
The most recent filing shows Soros as the owner of 894,000 shares of Scorpio Bulkers worth nearly $9 million. This single position is worth more than all of Soros' dry ship stock holdings combined. All in all, he had around $15 million in dry ship holdings at the end of December, compared to around $5 million at the end of September -- an increase of 200%.

Foolish final thoughts
Back in September it looked more like Soros was almost randomly buying a basket of dry shipping stocks with heavier weight toward the more popular names such as DryShips. More recently he appears more selective, more concentrated, and yet with heavier overall exposure to the industry.

Fools should watch to see if George Soros continues to increase his holdings in dry shipping stocks as doing so may help may spark interest in the sector as a whole. He and his fund have quite a fan base on a long track record of great research and success. Further bullishness from him could result in bullishness for the group as a whole, especially among what appears to be his favorite names: Scorpio Bulkers and Safe Bulkers.

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Nickey Friedman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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