NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tanker stocks have cooled off since TheStreet posed its latest shipping industry poll question.

Industry stalwart


(FRO) - Get Report

, for example, has seen its stock give back more than half the gains notched since the beginning of the year three weeks ago. Ditto shares of

General Maritime


(one of Peter Georgiopoulos' companies, along with

Genco Shipping & Trading

, the dry-bulk carrier).

On Friday,

JP Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

analyst Jonathan Chappell issued his 2010 oil tanker preview. He called whatever optimism he had for the year "muted," but he said that OPEC will likely crank up production in the second half of the year as the global economy recovers. Still, like the dry-bulk sector, the tanker trade has to face a "still robust orderbook of newbuilds."

Excess supply, however, will probably not harm the tanker business as much as dry bulk, since international law will at long last force companies to pull the last of their single-hull tankers from the water. (Double-hull oil tankers are now the standard, for obvious reasons. Think Valdez.)

No tanker stock has backtracked quite like

Nordic American Tanker

(NAT) - Get Report

, however, which fell 7% on Friday as investors reacted to the coming dilution of a 4 million-share equity offering the company priced at $32.50. That's 6.5% less than the value of Nordic stock at the close of trading Thursday.

Nordic chose to sell stock and raise cash a week after the height of a kind of

tanker-sector boomlet

, with shipping rates having risen as bad weather created bottlenecks and booking activity picked up at the start of the new year. Share prices set new 52-week highs, and the mainstream financial press (


, for example) touted shipping's tanker trade.

Nordic, with its clean balance sheet, will use proceeds from the capital-raise to expand its fleet. It will also distribute a dividend of 23 cents a share, up from 10 cents in the third period.

Which leads us back to the results of our poll: When we tallied our votes on Saturday, January 23, Nordic, whose shares at one time were a bastion of short-sellers, had proved to be the favorite of


readers. By a narrow margin, they voted Nordic, based in tax-haven Bermuda along with many other shipping outfits, as the most likely stock to outperform the tanker sector during the first half of 2010. Nordic took home more than 1,000 votes, or 36.4% of the total.

The runner-up honor goes to Frontline, also based in Bermuda, which garnered 31.2% of the votes. Analysts like that Frontline has two-thirds of its ships on the short-term spot market, which means the company is poised to benefit from any further spike in spot rates.

The other four companies in our survey polled far less well.

Ship Financial

(SFL) - Get Report

and General Maritime came in third and fourth with 12.8% and 11.6% of the vote, respectively.


(TK) - Get Report

-- upgraded to neutral from underweight by JP Morgan's Chappell -- received 4.8%, while

Overseas Shipholding

(OSG) - Get Report

took in just 3.1% of our survey-takers clicks.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.