Dry Ships Inc. – Nasdaq: DRYS
Dry Ships Inc. has it all – an intriguing Chairman, thrilling price and volume action, and industry commentary that would generously be considered as cautious. The company trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker DRYS and is dominating trader chat rooms. The catalyst to the latest increase in trading volume is related to news that Dry Ships raised $200 million in an equity sale to Kalani Investments – a BVI-based firm with little transparency. To add to the intrigue, rumors persist that Kalani no longer owns any of the shares it received in the transaction and George Economou, Chairman of Dry Ships Inc., has used a financing scheme that enriches himself without risking any of his own funds.
An investor that purchased DRY shares five years ago, Feb. 1, 2012, would have seen their investment, adjusting for reverse splits and dilution, lose 99.9876% of its value. So how could such a company survive not only de-listing but also investor confidence? The de-listing question is readily answered by multiple reverse stock splits and increased borrowing that some people claim serves no purpose other than to keep a failed company afloat.
On December 1, of 2016 George Economou purchased most of Dry Ships bank debt. Eleven days later, Dry Ships announced the successful completion of a $100 million equity raise in exchange for convertible preferred shares and warrants. On December 15, Dry Ships received an increase in their credit line from Economou to $200 million after the company repaid over $30 million. At the same time Economou lowered his firm’s management fees in return for 30% of all future realized asset value increases. To continue to add to the complexity, all within less than a month, Dry Ships entered into a financing agreement with mysterious Kalani Investments for another $200 million in an equity placement. So, what did Dry Ships do with their funding? They bought ships from a company reportedly controlled by George Economou – Chairman of Dry Ships. Then the unconfirmed whispers started that Kalani had sold all their shares to the public, at a small profit, and now hold no equity in DRYS. And in the middle of all of this, DRYS outstanding shares grew from approximately 1.1 million to over 107.9 million in less than two months then went through an 8:1 reverse split. Some people claim that Economou’s financing scheme basically used shareholder funds to buy ships from a company he controls with equity funding from a debt-laden and financially unsustainable company he also controls (Dry Ships Inc.).
Throughout all of this, Dry Ships activity was extensively commented on in the financial media. Some of the article headlines included “DryShips Stock: The Worst Dollar You’ll Ever Spend” and “George Economou Is The Main Reason To Sell Dryships” – both on SeekingAlpha.com. The MotleyFool.com published an article with the headline “Why DryShips’ Shares Vacillate So Much and How It’s CEO is Hanging Investors Out to Dry”. To be fair, articles on more populist financial media websites are purported to be no less damning if one can read between the lines like a professional trader.
Still, DRYS stock has been the big topic in trader chat rooms. The increased volume and attention have led to massive liquidity that few, if any, stocks of DRYS capitalization enjoy. The ending to this story has yet to be written. Mr Economou may come off as a genius that schooled the more conventional observers of his actions and scoffed. Or the last one out of the DRYS stock pool may be left with nothing more than the thrill of a ride that few have seen before.
I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 96 hours. All information, or data, is provided with no guarantees of accuracy.