Odyssey Marine Exploration (NASDAQ:OMEX) is probably the most interesting stock I have ever considered. They don't make great cell phones or sell music online or help you get coupons for your local businesses. Some may view that list as interesting - until they hear what OMEX does. They find shipwrecks!
How cool is that? I have been following this company since the announcement of their discovery of the SS Gairsoppa back in September. The company said, according to research and official documents, that the ship was carrying about 7 million ounces of silver when it went down, which would make it the largest known precious metal cargo ever recovered from the sea. Odyssey said that In 2010, the U.K. Government Department for Transport awarded it the exclusive salvage contract for the cargo of the SS Gairsoppa. "Under the salvage agreement Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the silver bullion recovered under the contract." I will explain later why that signed contract is so important to the story here.
The current market cap of OMEX is approximately 214 million. As of this writing, silver is currently trading around 34 dollars per ounce. That values the Gairsoppa silver currently at 238 million dollars. That would make Odyssey Marine's cut worth 190 million dollars. That number is very close to the entire market cap of this company. If that were the only wreck in their 'pipeline,' the current share price of 2.95 might make sense since the silver has not been salvaged yet (they are waiting until the spring to avoid dangerous seas). There is also a chance that the silver is not there even though insurance documents from that time say it is.
They also have various other wrecks in different phases including the HMS Victory. They have already inked a deal with the Maritime Heritage Foundation for the financing, archaeological survey and excavation, conservation and exhibit of HMS Victory (1744) and artifacts from the shipwreck site. HMS Victory was a British First Rate Warship that sank during a storm in 1744. Odyssey Marine believes the vessel carried 100,000 gold coins when it went down on Oct. 4, 1744.
The agreement calls for Odyssey's project costs to be reimbursed and for Odyssey to be paid a percentage of the recovered artifacts' fair value. The preferred option is for Odyssey to be compensated in cash. However, if the Foundation determines, based on the principles adopted for its own collection management and curation policy, that it is in its best interest to de-accession certain artifacts, the Foundation may choose to compensate Odyssey with artifacts in lieu of cash.
Odyssey will receive the equivalent of 80% of the fair value of artifacts which were primarily used in trade or commerce or were private property and bear no direct connection to the construction, navigation, defense or crew of the ship, such as coins or other cargo.
Odyssey will receive the equivalent of 50% of the fair value of all other objects typically associated with the construction, crewing and sailing of ships including, but not limited to, the ship's hull, fittings, fasteners, construction elements, clothing, organic remains, foodstuffs, cooking utensils, pottery, weapons, ammunition, ground tackle and navigational equipment.
For any private property including coins or other cargo administered through the Receiver of Wreck, the Foundation has agreed that Odyssey shall receive 80% of the value.
So, with their expenses paid for and percentages of recovery values guaranteed, Odyssey has avoided a repeat of another Black Swan deal (they had to return a big treasure to Spain recently), and perhaps more importantly, formed a new template for how to move forward with future treasures. This feels like the beginning of a new era for this company and for OMEX investors.
I started a small position a couple of weeks ago on a swing trade idea I called in our day trading chat room, but I told our members I was holding off with the bigger buys until this stock was trading at or below 3 dollars. The recent slow decline in the share price coupled with the potential of a very big spring (plus 20% of the float is held short right now which is extra fuel for an upside move), has finally given me the buying opportunity I've been waiting for.
Disclosure: I am long OMEX.
Additional disclosure: I own Greatstockpix.com and run the live trading chat room there.