Crypto miners, whose shares are most levered to bitcoin prices, surged on Wednesday after the price of the largest cryptocurrency hit an all-time high, trading above $66,000 for the first time.
Canada-based bitcoin miner Hive Blockchain Technologies (HIVE), which mines in regions with cooler temperatures and uses low-cost renewable energy for its operations, was the best performer among mining stocks, rising more than 7%. Fellow miners Hut 8 Mining (HUT) and Riot Blockchain (RIOT) both saw their shares advance more than 3%, while Marathon Digital (MARA) climbed slightly.
Stronghold Digital (SDIG), a bitcoin miner billing itself as an environmentally beneficial operator with access to cheap power, was up more than 60% from its initial public offering (IPO) price in its debut on Wednesday.
Among other crypto-related stocks, MicroStrategy (MSTR), often seen as a proxy for bitcoin because it holds so much of the digital currency on its balance sheet, climbed 5.8%, while crypto exchange Coinbase Global (COIN) gained 2.8% and Robinhood Markets (HOOD), where many users trade crypto, fell slightly. The wider S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq composite were also in the green on Wednesday.
The share prices of crypto miners, which derive most of their revenue from mining digital currencies and tend to hold as many of the minted digital coins as possible on their balance sheets, are highly correlated with the price of bitcoin. In fact, according to Wall Street firm D.A. Davidson analyst Christopher Brendler, mining stocks are about 70% correlated to the price of bitcoin.
Recently, Brendler initiated research coverage of bitcoin miners with a bullish outlook for the sector and named Hut 8 his top pick. “Although Hut 8 isn’t yet as scaled, we see the most earnings upside in the group thanks to a brand new, low-cost 100 MW facility (with 35 MW set to come online 4Q21 and the rest in 2022). Combined with well-timing mining rig orders to fill up this new data center and the cheap valuation, Hut is our top pick here,” Brendler said.
Miners versus bitcoin itself
With more institutional investors coming into the sector and bitcoin’s continued rally, the natural question is “why buy the miners when you can buy the cryptocurrency itself?”
Jefferies analyst Jonathan Petersen answered the question in his Oct. 18 research report. “It’s a fair question, but upon exploration of the topic, we have observed that mining generally results in higher returns on multi-year periods of time,” Petersen wrote. His analysis showed that if someone bought a more recent mining computer, an S19 Pro, at the end of the first quarter of 2020, when the market spot price for the machine was $2,410, a mine-and-hold strategy would return 1,083% vs buying and holding bitcoin, which would return 764%.
On top of that, if a miner has access to cheap power, the returns are even greater, he added.
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