Odyssey Marine Exploration: Treasure Hunting Rags to Riches (OMR)

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Stock Tickers: OMR, CLCT, PRXI, HIST

If you haven’t heard of Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. (OMR-AMEX), you either haven’t watch treasure ship shows on television or haven’t seen some wild occasional stock moves.  Today shares of Odyssey Marine Exploration are up a whopping 60% to a multi-year high of $7.38 and this is not because of a takeover.

The company has completed a pre-disturbance archaelogical survey and preliminary excavation of a Colonial-period shipwreck in an "undiclosed location in the Atlantic Ocean."  The artifacts include more than 500,000 silver coins that are said to weigh more than 17 tons.  There are also gold coins and other precious artifacts.  These are said to be legally imported into the United States and are undergoing documentation and conservation.

This is the same outfit that uncovered the gold coins from the SS Republic, an 1865 Civil War era shipwreck that yielded over 50,000 coins with a retail value said to be over $75 million.  If you have ever been channel surfing on television late at night you have probably seen those coins. 

The company has a market cap of some $347 million after today’s massive run.  The question now is "what is the value of the other potential ships in the area?".  There is also the ongoing turf wars that exist in every offshore treasure hunt because every nation around wants their cut, and depending on how old the shipwrecks are, there may actually stilll be some ‘salvage and ownership claims’ from either government or individuals or insurance companies that paid loss claims once upon a time.  This one is now an even more active speculator’s stock if you ever saw one.

There are some other stocks that get tied in to this sort of stock whenever there is news.  Gallery of History (HIST-NASDAQ) is a micro-cap that has some overlaps.  Collector’s Universe (CLCT-NASDAQ) is a coin grading and certification service, although they are probably more known for their PSA sportscard and memorabilia grading and authentication services.  There is lastly the company Premier Exhibitions Inc. (PRXI-NASDAQ), which owns of all things the RMS Titanic Inc. (yes, the famed shipwreck) salvage and artifact company. 

Jon C. Ogg
May 18, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.