Retail stock traders have taken center stage this year, embracing speculative bets that institutional investors have shunned. How does this trend affect ocean shipping equities? One indicator is stocks owned by customers of the highly popular Robinhood platform.
Robinhood discloses how many of its users own each stock at any given moment. This data is downloaded daily and measured over time by Robintrack.net. FreightWaves sifted through the Robintrack database and the Robinhood disclosures and picked out the leading shipping equities.
The result is a very, very different Top 10 list than you’d get from institutional investors.
#10 — Scorpio Tankers
The Robinhood lineup starts out on normal footing with Scorpio Tankers (NYSE: STNG).
Scorpio is the largest publicly listed product-tanker owner. It attracts significant institutional investor interest and garners “buy” recommendations from several sell-side analysts.
Scorpio Tankers stock was owned by 5,839 Robinhood users as of Monday. (The data does not show the total number of shares owned, just the number of owners.)
Robinhood buyers piled into these shares starting in the second half of April, when talk of floating storage upside was rampant.
The pitch was that plunging oil prices would force buyers to store oil on ships, filling up vessel capacity, because production could not be switched off fast enough to compensate for coronavirus-induced demand destruction.
WTI crude went negative for the first time ever on April 20. Nordic American Tankers (NYSE: NAT) CEO Herbjorn Hansson appeared on Jim Cramer’s CNBC show “Mad Money” on April 24.
Late April was the peak for many shipping stocks, with pricing and volume pulling back thereafter.
But the Robintrack data shows Robinhood users continued to increase their exposure to Scorpio Tankers until late May. They’ve held steady since — despite the fact that Scorpio’s stock price has lost half its value since late April.
#9 — Euronav
Euronav (NYSE: EURN) is the largest listed crude-tanker owner, with a market cap of $2 billion and a strong following among analysts and institutional investors. As with Scorpio Tankers, there’s no surprise Euronav is on the list. The surprise is that it’s ranked only ninth and that so few Robinhooders own it.
As with Scorpio, ownership didn’t really jump until the last week of April. The number of Robinhood owners of Euronav stock increased through late June. As of Monday, 5,894 Robinhooders owned Euronav stock.
Daily trading volume in Euronav shares is down and the stock price has fallen 30% since late April. Yet the number of Robinhood owners remains near peak levels.
#8 — GasLog Ltd.
LNG shipping has been hard-hit by the coronavirus effect on oil pricing. Lower oil pricing cuts production of both oil and gas, while gas-price weakness can erase arbitrage-induced transport opportunities. GasLog’s share price began its slide in mid-January and hasn’t recovered. It’s down two-thirds since then.
Robinhood users owning GasLog tripled in a single day: April 20, the day WTI went negative — which was actually a bearish development for GasLog.
The number of Robinhood users who hold GasLog has stayed near its peak. As of Monday, 6,806 Robinhood users owned GasLog stock.
#7 — DHT
DHT (NYSE: DHT) is a pure play on the very large crude carriers (VLCCs, tankers that carry 2 million barrels of crude oil). It is well regarded by analysts, has an $826 million market cap and has time charters in place to hedge against falling spot rates as floating storage deals unwind.
The Robinhood ownership pattern for DHT is familiar. Traders came in toward the end of April and ownership has remained high since peaking in late May. There were 11,595 Robinhood owners of DHT stock as of Monday, despite the fact that DHT shares have shed a third of their value since late April.
#6 — Frontline
Tanker owner Frontline (NYSE: FRO), founded by shipping magnate John Fredriksen, has long been a darling of retail and institutional investors alike. Frontline has a market cap of $1.5 billion and a reputation for generous dividends.
Here again, Robinhood users piled in toward the end of April. In this case, the number of owners continued to increase through early July, even as the price of Frontline shares has fallen 28% since late April. There were 11,894 Robinhood owners of Frontline stock on Monday.
The Robinhood entries in sixth to tenth place are the kind of companies owned by larger institutional funds. The difference is that larger funds got into these stocks earlier and pulled back, whereas Robinhood users came in later, kept buying as stocks fell and are still holding.
Jon Chappell, analyst at Evercore ISI, previously speculated that “just as rates were skyrocketing and retail was getting involved, institutions began fading the rally.”
#5 — Globus Maritime
Dry bulk company Globus Maritime (NASDAQ: GLBS) takes the fifth slot. On Monday, its stock was trading at 15 cents. Its market cap was around $27 million. A total of 15,766 Robinhooders owned the stock — almost triple the number of users who own stock in shipping giant Euronav.
Data from Robintrack shows that Robinhood ownership in Globus spiked beginning June 18 and has kept rising.
On June 18, Globus announced the pricing of a registered direct offering (RDO) to a group of institutional investors. New York’s Maxim Group was the placement agent. Two more RDOs followed.
Last Thursday, the funds buying equity in the RDOs filed to sell shares obtained through warrant exercises. Funds named included Empery, Hudson Bay, Intracoastal, L1 Capital, Sabby, Anson, Alto, Bigger Capital, CVI, Ionic Ventures and Lind Global.
The funds disclosed that they had purchased 129.2 million shares and continued to own 54.7 million, meaning they had resold 74.5 million shares between June 18 and last Thursday.
The Robintrack chart data suggests where many of those shares may have ended up — in the accounts of Robinhooders. Between June 17 and Monday, the price of Globus shares has fallen by a third.
#4 — Castor Maritime
Like Globus, Castor Maritime (NASDAQ: CTRM) is a small Greek dry bulk owner. It also has a tiny market cap — $26 million — and an unusually big footprint on Robinhood: 16,826 users owned the stock as of Monday.
Like Globus, Robinhood users’ ownership of Castor spiked on a single day, in this case, June 24.
After market close on June 23, Castor announced pricing of an RDO, with Maxim Group as placement manager. Castor did a second RDO this month. Securities filings show that funds owning Castor shares include Sabby, Empery, L1, CVI and Intracoastal.
#3 — Nordic American Tankers
Its trading volume surged in late April to levels far beyond those of any other listed shipping company, following its CEO’s appearance on “Mad Money.”
NAT is the only company in the Robinhood shipping Top 5 that is listed on NYSE and has a market cap in the nine figures: $649 million. Its shares were owned by 34,333 Robinhood users on Monday.
The Robintrack data shows ownership surging in late April, as was the case with the larger-cap tanker equities. However, the number of users owning NAT is now down 29% from 48,687 on May 4.
#2 — Seanergy
Seanergy (NASDAQ: SHIP) is yet another Greek-owned dry bulk company with a very small market cap: $26 million.
Seanergy caught the attention of infamous day trader David Portnoy on June 23; “Davey Day Trader” said he didn’t have a clue what Seanergy did, but bought it anyway because he liked the ticker symbol.
Robintrack data shows a steady rise of Robinhooder ownership starting March 31, building through April and May, then spiking in early June before peaking at 95,146 users on June 28, just prior to the company’s reverse split. Since the reverse split, the number of users has fallen sharply, to 53,558 as of Monday.
On March 31, Seanergy priced the first in a series of common stock and warrants offerings handled by Maxim. It did four more sales through early May, coinciding with the period in which Robinhood user ownership of the stock rose.
On May 8, the funds that bought the shares from Seanergy filed to resell shares they would obtain from exercising warrants. The selling funds were Empery, Hudson Bay, Intracoastal, L1 and Sabby.
These funds disclosed that they acquired 187.1 million shares in the offerings and continued to own 39.3 million shares as of May 8, meaning they had resold 147.8 million shares in a short period of time — a period when Seanergy happened to climb the Robinhood rankings.
On June 24, Seanergy CEO Stamatis Tsantanis disclosed on a quarterly call that almost all of the warrants had already been exercised. The June period when the warrants were exercised coincided with a stretch of rapidly growing Robinhood user ownership of Seanergy stock.
#1 — Top Ships
And the winner by a long shot is … tanker owner Top Ships (NASDAQ: TOPS).
Top Ships has raised more money this year from equity sales than any other listed shipping company. It grossed $5 million in an at-the-market (ATM) offering handled by Maxim in March. Then, on March 31, it launched a series of RDOs with Maxim as placement agent. It did a total of 11 RDOs through this month, raising further gross proceeds of $119.7 million.
There are no securities filings yet that confirm who initially bought the RDO shares. However, there was a list filed of introduced investors for the March ATM: Anson, KBB, Sabby, Ayrton, District 2, Bigger Capital, Empery, Hudson Bay, Intracoastal, Ionic Capital, Lind Partners, Oasis Capital and Obsidian Capital.
The Robintrack data shows that Top Ships’ stock was not particularly popular with Robinhood users until the very end of March — when the RDO series began.
It also shows a sharp spike in the first two weeks of June. Top Ships’ RDOs were done in relatively small sizes — the mid-nine digits — until the first half of June. The offering size jumped to $20 million on June 7 and $15 million on June 10.
On March 27, before the RDO series began, there were 16,969 Robinhood users who owned Top Ships stock, according to Robintrack. On that day, the stock was trading at 23 cents.
There are now 208,186 Robinhood users who own Top Ships stock — 12 times more than in late March and more than all nine of the other shipping stocks on the list combined.
Top Ships is the 37th most popular stock from a number-of-users perspective on the entire Robinhood site. Trading at just 10 cents a share, Top Ships’ stock is more popular among Robinhooders than the equities of Starbucks, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, GM and Sony. Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Greg Miller
MORE ON SHIPPING STOCKS: Shipowners with shares worth pennies rake in millions: see story here. A lost decade for shipping shares: see story here. “Robinhood effect” spread unevenly across tanker stocks: see story here.