DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) reported fiscal third-quarter results Wednesday night that blew away estimates. But things weren't as good as they seemed, even as shares rose in after-hours trading.
Revenue jumped 49% to $602 million, and adjusted earnings per diluted share were $0.07, compared with a loss in the year-ago period. Analysts were looking for just $533 million in revenue and adjusted EPS of $0.05. So far, so good -- but in the shipping business, DryShips disappointed, and disappointed badly.
Don't let the operating profit fool you
I've explained it before, and I'll explain it again: DryShips owns a majority stake in Ocean Rig UDW (NASDAQ:ORIG). As such, it reports both companies on its financial statements mixed together. CEO George Economou put it well back during the August conference call when he stated, "I would like to clarify for everyone, once again, that DryShips is a pure shipping company with predominantly spot charter market exposure in 2014 and beyond and a majority stake in Ocean Rig, which operates as the deepwater drillships."
So how did the pure shipping, segregated out, perform in the third quarter? Getting that answer is fairly simple -- just take the Ocean Rig numbers alone and back them out of DryShips' report.
Ocean Rig reported $516 million in revenue, which leaves the pure shipping company with $86 million. Adjusted earnings for Ocean Rig were $104 million, which leaves DryShips with a $74 million adjusted loss. The DryShips earnings release comes off as a bit misleading.
I'll spare you the math, but the pure shipping company reported far worse than analysts' earnings estimates. To be fair to DryShips, though, it's probably more of a function of analysts asleep at the wheel. Shipping rates and expenses are fully disclosed in advance and wouldn't be all that difficult for analysts to calculate and guess close to accurately, if they took the time to do so.
There wasn't much in the report that was new and not previously known. DryShips met its financial obligations through a combination of debt and equity offerings, the bulk of which happened after the quarter ended, as disclosed in previous press releases.
Going forward for shipping, Economou stated:
Insofar as the drybulk markets are concerned, the long awaited recovery in freight rates is happening, and we believe this may lead to a sustainable recovery in charter rates through 2015. Clearly our view is supported by forward charter rates and asset prices, which are holding up resiliently, underscoring the positive market expectations. Dryships has a large amount of spot market exposure and is therefore uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the expected recovery in charter rates.
On one hand, that's great news for the shipping company. On the other hand, he said almost the same thing a year ago, in the Nov. 4, 2013, press release, and 2014 up until a few weeks ago has been a terrible disappointment. Perhaps that will change, but as of this writing the "large amount of spot market exposure" Economou refers to is almost entirely with DryShips' Panamax fleet, and those rates are still down 23% on a year-over-year basis.
Unless Panamax rates make an enormous upward and sustainable move, I wouldn't be interested in DryShips as an investment. Over time, the company has always lost money and diluted shareholders like clockwork, and that pattern seems to be continuing.