Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) are getting thrown overboard, down more than 20% today on a combination of a continued soft dry-shipping market, the market value of its 78.3 million Ocean Rig UDW (NASDAQ:ORIG) shares continuing to decline, an analyst downgrade, and a company announcement that it is withdrawing its public senior secured notes offering.
So what: Shares of Ocean Rig continue to slide from weak energy prices, and the dry-shipping rate market has yet to kick into high gear. Normally the period beginning late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter is a seasonally strong one for shipping rates. That hasn't been happening, as rates have been sinking instead due to oversupply of the global fleet along with softer-than-expected (by most industry experts) demand.
The disappointing rate environment is having a domino effect that is hurting DryShips today in two other areas. First, in the press release, DryShips stated it is withdrawing its $700 million offering due to "market conditions," although the company did score up to $350 million in other financing.
However, when all is said and done, DryShips expects to have $100 million in net cash, which isn't much. The weak market conditions referred to aren't just in the general area of lending, but also in the rate environment, which substantially raises the risk of lending specifically to dry shipping companies.
Second, in reaction to disappointing news, Imperial Capital downgraded DryShips from "outperform" to "underperform" while severely slashing the price target from $4 to just $1.40. That's 65%, and far below the $1.85 price at which the stock closed on Friday.
Now what: DryShips is not in great financial shape, and with its Ocean Rig UDW rapidly declining in value lately, raising money has become more difficult, as those shares have less strength to use as collateral. $100 million isn't going to last the company very long, and now its very survival, at least for the common shareholder, is in question.
The daily spot market needs to make a serious and dramatic rally -- and fast -- to turn things around for DryShips, especially in the Panamax market. Last year, CEO George Economou and his management team made the decision to float its Panamax fleet based on daily spot prices instead of the safety of fixed-rate contracts. It was a gamble that the shipping market for these vessels would be red-hot by now. That gamble so far has been a huge bust.
What's worse is that January is not too far off anymore -- it tends to be the seasonally worst period for the dry shipping market due to the Chinese holidays. Since around 70% of the iron ore shipping market is exported to China, that single country plays a dominant role.
With the stock so severely beaten down, it may be tempting to take a gamble yourself, but it's difficult for me to see a favorable risk-reward situation even at these levels. If you want to gamble, I say stick to the casino, because the odds are probably better there than with DryShips stock.