Drys Rocks
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What happened

Dry bulk shipper DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) is biting investors in the portfolio again today, with its stock plunging as much as 30% in early Thursday trading. At last report, the stock was still trading down 25.2% as of 12: p.m. EST.

So what

For DryShips investors, it never rains, but it does pour -- either profits or losses. Last year, the stock scored a series of enormous gains in response to a combination of investor optimism over the election of Donald Trump as president and a resurgence in shipping prices on the Baltic Dry Index (BDI).

This year, the topsy-turvy world of DryShips stock investing looks to be just as fraught. On the one hand, the BDI is on the upswing again after suffering a rough start to the beginning of the year. On the other hand, DryShips stock -- recently quoted at just $1.18 per share -- has just announced that it will conduct a "reverse split" of its stock.

Now what

Much as investors love stock splits, they hate reverse splits -- and this one is a doozy. For every eight shares of DryShips that investors own today, the company will trade them just one share of stock on Jan. 23.

This isn't exactly "news." In fact, DryShips investors authorized their board to conduct a reverse split at the company's annual general meeting on Oct. 26, 2016. But at that time, management hadn't settled on the precise ratio of old shares to be eliminated in proportion to new shares issued. Today's announcement makes that vague threat from October and real today -- and it's apparently spooking investors -- and rightly so. After the split, DryShips will have only 8.7 million shares afloat so few shares will vastly reduce liquidity, making the stock even more vulnerable to dramatic rises (and falls) in price in days to come.

Buckle up, passengers. It's going to be a rocky ride.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he currently ranks No. 360 out of more than 75,000 rated members.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.