Make us your home page

Deep sea treasure hunter Odyssey Marine falls under further financial pressure

Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration knows all about the crushing deep-sea pressure associated with shipwreck treasure hunting. But can it survive the growing financial squeeze of a dwindling stock price, another round of renegotiated and heavily leveraged debts, selling off assets that include one of its corporate buildings, and heavy, ongoing quarterly losses?

Where to start? The company Friday morning reported quarterly earnings with revenue of $1.5 million, up from just $200,000 in the same quarter of 2014 — funds generated almost entirely by the sale of coins recovered earlier from the shipwreck SS Republic. Otherwise, Odyssey is generating little if any revenue at the moment.

Odyssey lost $4.6 million in the latest quarter, on top of a $7.4 million loss a year earlier. It has generated $2 million in revenue in 2015's first nine months while losing more than $20 million.

Odyssey's shares, which trade on the Nasdaq, hover near recent lows, closing at 421/2 cents on Friday. Its stock started falling below $1 early this year, triggering warnings from Nasdaq that it will be bounced from the trading floor if the company cannot improve its share value and meet Nasdaq compliance standards. Odyssey CEO Mark Gordon, who received $1.4 million in total compensation last year, says the company learned this week that it has won more time and has until March 7 to meet Nasdaq's criteria, which include the capacity of Odyssey shares to reach $1 for at least 30 days in a row.

Odyssey, of course, is not a traditional U.S. corporation that's supposed to show consistent growth in revenues and actually operate in the black. It's more like a corporate cat with nine lives, reanimating itself with new stock offerings and loans backed by its inventory of previously salvaged silver and gold coins.

The company's history is littered with highs and lows. Over the years, Odyssey has discovered exotic and historical shipwrecks, with some containing significant amounts of silver and gold coins and artifacts, even as the company often finds expensive legal entanglements with the home countries of those ships that make national claims on their treasures. In more recent years, Odyssey has expanded its expertise by searching for natural resources like phosphate minerals of potential value on the ocean floors.

Odyssey's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission are thick with ongoing investment negotiations, with exotic-sounding but vague businesses like Minera del Norte and Penelope Mining LLC; and loans from Monaco Financial, Panama-based Oceanica Resources, investor Mako Resources, as well as mortgages from mainstream lenders like Ohio's Fifth Third Bank. The complexity of all these deals and potential deals seems bizarre for a business the stock market values at just $37 million and whose accountants routinely warn may lack the financial strength to continue.

What's the endgame for Odyssey? The company's apparent expertise in financial tightrope walking reminds me of the character Wimpy from the old Popeye comic strip and cartoon, who became famous for displaying his empty pockets and saying: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Eventually, Tuesday always comes around.

Contact Robert Trigaux at Follow @venturetampabay.

Deep sea treasure hunter Odyssey Marine falls under further financial pressure 11/06/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2015 8:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  2. Ford's Garage opens new Westchase spot


    Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week.

    hillsevbiz081817: Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week. Photo courtesy of Ford's Garage
  3. Carls Patio celebrates great outdoor furnishings in Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — While many northerners are shoveling snow, Floridians are lounging poolside in the middle of winter.

    hillsevbiz081817: After selling outdoor and patio furniture in locations in South Florida since 1993, Carls Patio has opened its first store to open in the Tampa Bay area and there are plans for more. Photo courtesy of Carls Patio.
  4. Massage therapist opens South Tampa office


    As a social worker in the early '90s, a majority of Tracy Jones' cases were people dealing with depression.

    Tracy Jones recently opened Tampa Bay Sports and Medical Massage in South Tampa. Photo courtesy of Tracy Jones.
  5. Stadium area Chick-fil-A location will open Aug. 31


    While active in the Air Force, New York City native, Carlos Brito often traveled to Tampa for work.

    Chick-fil-A Tampa Stadium celebrates its' grand opening on Aug. 31. Photo courtesy of Carlos Brito.