DryShips needs to pony up about $1 billion to the shipyards in order to pay for the four drillships. Expectations were that the company would have announced a contract by the end of 2009, but midway through January, investors were still sitting at the port terminal, looking up at the departures board (so to speak).

Among other U.S.-listed dry-bulk shipping names Friday, Navios Maritime ( NM) fell 1%, Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK) declined 1.3%, and Eagle Bulk Shipping ( EGLE) retreated 1.2%.

-- 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 TheStreet.com, 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.

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