Bitcoin (BTC) has taken a beating over the past two months, bringing pain for digital assets and blockchain-related stocks, most of which have taken an even bigger hit. Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) have been an outlier, losing less than bitcoin.
CoinDesk data show bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has lost over 39% of its value since hitting record highs near $69,000 on Nov. 10 owing to a broad-based move to less risky assets triggered by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) hawkish stance. Coinbase has dropped 36%.
Shares of the U.S.-listed mining companies Marathon Digital Holdings (MARA), Riot Blockchain (RIOT) and Bit Digital (BTBT) have dropped more than 50% each since Nov. 10, according to data from charting platform TradingView.
Argo Blockchain (ARBK), the only crypto miner listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), has declined by 45%, while Canadian crypto miners Hive Blockchain (HIVE) and Hut 8 Mining Corp (HUT) have slipped 52% and 59%, respectively. Toronto-listed crypto exchange Voyager Digital (VYGVF) is down 50% alongside a 45% slide in shares in MicroStrategy (MSTR), a business-intelligence software company that holds 122,478 BTC, worth nearly $6 billion, on its balance sheet.
The decline in the value of the so-called crypto stocks is perhaps reflective of institutions losing interest in the sector amid rising prospects of faster Fed rate hikes. It also shows that investing in bitcoin remains a safer way to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency. Still, while bitcoin may be viewed as digital gold by some in the crypto community, it is also an emerging technology. That makes both bitcoin and crypto stocks sensitive to monetary policy tightening.
“Some institutions use crypto equities as a proxy for crypto itself,” Mike Alfred, a value investor and CEO at BrightScope and Digital Assets Data, told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat. “It’s easier for hedge funds to buy COIN than it is for them to hold BTC directly for various reasons.”
One possible explanation for COIN’s relative strength could be that the exchange’s revenue is tied to bitcoin’s price volatility rather than its price trajectory. The high price turbulence seen in recent weeks usually means more transactions and increased revenue.
Volatility = more transactions
NFT marketplace coming soon.
Watch the business, not the stock.$COIN
— Danny Baldus-Strauss (@BackpackerFI) January 6, 2022
The investor community is now beginning to look at COIN as a value stock instead of a growth stock. Value stocks are companies considered to be trading below what they are worth. Growth stocks are the ones with the potential to outperform the overall market over a given period and are more vulnerable to interest-rate hikes.
“COIN is the only crypto stock in my personal top 10 equity holdings. I like it because they have the best brand amongst the highly regulated players,” Alfred said. “It also trades at a reasonable multiple compared to traditional exchanges. I actually view it as a value stock at these levels.”
Bank of America recently upgraded Coinbase to buy from neutral while keeping the price target unchanged at $340, citing increasing signs of revenue diversification beyond retail crypto trading as the catalyst for the change in rating.