3 Greece Stocks in Focus as Athens Resumes Trading

National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS), and FreeSeas Inc (NASDAQ:FREE) are in focus after trading resumed in Athens

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:36 AM

Trading in Athens re-opened today after a five-week suspension, and the action has been ugly. At one point, the Athens Stock Exchange had surrendered nearly one-quarter of its value --  led by a sell-off in financial names -- and ended 16.2% lower. While one would assume these sharp losses would prompt across-the-board selling for Greece stocks with U.S.-listed shares -- as has been seen in other global markets of late -- that doesn't appear to be the case. Here's a closer look at banking issue National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), as well as shipping concerns DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS) and FreeSeas Inc (NASDAQ:FREE).

NBG -- which is one of Greece's largest lenders -- re-opened in Athens today with a 30% drop, and was among the biggest losers on the Athens Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, the American depositary shares (ADR) of NBG are also lower today, down 5% at $0.86. Year-over-year, the stock has shed 72% -- and more recently, has encountered a ceiling in the form of its 10-day moving average.

Option traders have been quick to initiate bearish bets in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), National Bank of Greece's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 3.51 sits at an annual high.

DRYS -- which will take its turn in the earnings confessional later this week -- is flat today at $0.53. Longer term, shares of DRYS have surrendered more than 80% over the past 52 weeks, and are lingering roughly 8% above their all-time low of $0.49, tagged last month.

Unlike option traders, most analysts have taken the glass-half-empty approach to DryShips Inc., with 80% of those covering the shares maintaining a "hold" or "strong sell" suggestion. Meanwhile, the average 12-month price target of $0.94 stands at a 77% premium to current trading levels.

FREE, on the other hand, popped 11.7% at the open, but was last seen 6.5% higher at $1. Today's positive price action is much needed for a stock that was staring at a 97% year-to-date deficit heading into today's session. As such, the security's 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) was docked at 29 -- in oversold territory -- suggesting a near-term bounce may have been in the cards.

Regardless, short sellers have been upping the bearish ante, with short interest more than tripling in the most recent reporting period. These pessimistic positions now account for a healthy 17.2% of FreeSeas Inc's available float.

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