And then there were tankers for Castor Maritime. The Cyprus-based owner of dry bulk carriers has ventured into the wet trade with the acquisition of two charter-laden aframax LR2 tankers, sending its legions of online amateur investors into new fits of enthusiasm. The sale price was $27.2m.
Castor shares were up 40% Thursday to $1.66 as investors traded 366m shares before lunch in New York. Castor already had been one of the fastest-growing players in the dry bulk market, although from a modest base. The Petros Panagiotidis-led shipowner has tripled its fleet of bulkers to nine since last summer, largely on the strength of selling massive numbers of shares at well below $1.
Castor in January caught the attention of retail investors active on internet message boards like Reddit. It was one of the stocks initially restricted in trading by platforms like Robinhood as investors sought to pump up stocks heavily shorted by hedge funds. The activity has helped push Castor from $0.18 per share to today’s highs.
Castor did not identify the vessels it has purchased, but said they are 2005-built Korean tankers. The pair come with charters extending about one year, with a guaranteed floor of $15,000 per day and a 50-50 profit share over the base. Charterers have an option to extend employment for a further year.
“As we have communicated previously, we are a company that aims to take advantage of attractive opportunities presented to us, as the shipping cycles evolve. Therefore, we are very excited to be entering the tanker market, at what we believe is an opportune time for this sector,” Panagiotidis said in a statement Thursday.
Any short-term weakness in the tanker market is offset by the charter terms, with a potential upside in market recovery, he said. “In addition, we believe that the diversification of our fleet across the dry bulk and tanker sector provides us with a natural hedge against the cyclicality of the shipping industry. With significant capital on hand, we are actively continuing to look for further opportunities to diversify and grow our fleet with the addition of high quality tonnage,” Panagiotidis said.