NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dry-bulk earnings season has begun, and if the early returns offer any indication, it's going to be a kind of boring third quarter.

And that's a good thing, because what have decidedly not been boring are the volatile ups and downs in the broader equities markets, driven by economic data reports that signal recovery one day and entrenched recession the next. Like everything else this week, especially commodities-related names, the shares of shipping companies have been violently whipsawed by investors.

DryShips ( DRYS), for instance, ended Friday by losing nearly 5% to close at $6.04. The loss erased a 5% jump in value on Thursday, which followed two straight sessions of sharp declines, when the stock surrendered nearly 13%.

Because dry-bulk shares are high beta, big moves in broader indices are magnified in the maritime names. Indeed, every dry-bulk stock moved in similar fashion this week, rocked by the heavy seas.

But back to earnings: This week, DryShips and Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK - Get Report) released quarterly results that surpassed Wall Street targets -- the former by 7 cents a share and the latter by 9 cents. Both appeared to benefit from interest expenses that came in at a lower rate than many had foreseen.

Otherwise, the results of both operators showed that year-over-year comparisons remain bleak, but that China's raw-materials buying binge, which spurred record imports of iron ore and other commodities all summer, stabilized the shipping industry's profits.

But DryShips -- which, unlike any other dry-bulker, has pursued a course into the deepwater offshore drilling business -- enjoyed a modest boost from that very segment in its latest quarter.

Judging by the results of our most recent survey, which asked readers of TheStreet to choose the shipper they believed would post the best quarterly numbers, no company will perform better than what we've already seen.

As usual, fan-favorite DryShips took the trophy, though somewhat narrowly, receiving some 29.5% of the vote. In second place: Diana Shipping ( DSX - Get Report), which reports its third quarter before the opening bell on Nov. 10. The DryShips rival took home 23% of your clicks.

The middle tier included Eagle Bulk Shipping ( EGLE - Get Report) (13.4%) and Navios Maritime ( NM - Get Report) (12.4%). Bringing up the rear were Genco (8.7%), Excel Maritime ( EXM) (13.4%) and wee FreeSeas ( FREE) (4.5%).

-- 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.