Is Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (SBLK) A Smart Long-Term Buy?

Massif Capital, an investment management firm, published its third-quarter 2021 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here.  A quarterly portfolio net return of 7.7% gains was recorded by the fund for the third quarter of 2021. Year-to-date, the portfolio has returned 14.9%. You can take a look at the fund’s top 5 holdings to have an idea about their best picks for 2021.

Massif Capital, in its Q3 2021 investor letter, mentioned Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ: SBLK) and discussed its stance on the firm. Star Bulk Carriers Corp. is a Marousi, Greece-based shipping company with a $2.3 billion market capitalization. SBLK delivered a 159.91% return since the beginning of the year, while its 12-month returns are up by 221.88%. The stock closed at $22.95 per share on October 8, 2021.

Here is what Massif Capital has to say about Star Bulk Carriers Corp. in its Q3 2021 investor letter:

“We initiated one long position, one short position and exited one position during the third quarter. Our new long position was in Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK), a pure-play dry bulk operator with roughly 120 controlled vessels and 14 million tons of combined cargo capacity globally.

SBLK has one of the better management teams in the maritime shipping industry and the lowest cost structure among all dry bulk names. After announcing their new dividend policy in May, SBLK now has one of the best payout structures in shipping. The firm has paid out $0.3 and $0.7 per share in dividends for the first and second quarters of 2021. SBLK will most likely announce a dividend for the third quarter somewhere in the $1.15-$1.25 per
share range, depending on movement in net working capital.

We believe the best way to look at this business is through cash generation potential and how much is returned to investors. The current equity valuation does not reflect current rates for shipping (earnings), partly because of the velocity of the move in rates and because shipping cycles turn, and it’s not clear whether this is a local top or the early innings of a multi-year cycle. Our belief is the latter. Part of our catalyst is the market re-rating the stock higher once the length of the increased earnings power becomes understood. It is a relatively strong catalyst in the sense that with a strong dividend policy, we can be patient for the market to underwrite this story as the cash is either returned to us via a high dividend yield if the market is either slow or chooses not to join our side of the trade.

Our estimates suggest a time-charter equivalent rate (net profit or loss of operating a vessel daily) of at least $30,000 for SBLK in Q4, with the firm earning a potential annual average of $26,000. Our base case is that this is a strong floor going into next year, with little need to articulate much more upside. If rates hold, which we expect them to do, we could see a 20+% annual dividend year next year for SBLK. If the market priced the equity such that the dividend yield was 8%, that implies a $62 stock. Today our base case target for the firm is $37 per share. This is likely conservative as we know that third-quarter rates are higher than the second quarter, and third-quarter dividends will most likely reflect that. We are cautious about diving too deep into the sensitivities to the upside with this position as we are arriving at some pretty remunerative torque using current contracted values and seemingly conservative forecasts…” (Click here to see the full text)


Based on our calculations, Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ: SBLK) was not able to clinch a spot in our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. SBLK was in 24 hedge fund portfolios at the end of the first half of 2021, compared to 13 funds in the previous quarter. Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ: SBLK) delivered an 11.68% return in the past 3 months.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.