An Uncanny Correlation: Overstock's Stock and the Bitcoin Price

A publicly traded stock is tracking the price of bitcoin, a correlation that appears to have played out over a period of years.

AccessTimeIconAug 17, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated May 2, 2022 at 4:05 p.m. UTC

At a time when it's hard to find a correlation between cryptocurrencies and just about any other asset class, it may come as a surprise that a fairly public stock would be tracking bitcoin.

However, that's exactly what appears to be the case with the share price of (OSTK) and the BTC/USD exchange rate. What's more, it's not exactly a short-term coincidence at play.

Ever since 2014, the technical price charts between the two assets have developed a striking similarity, one that not only seems to grow stronger as times goes on, but that saw its latest example late last week amidst crypto market turmoil.

At first this may seem like comparing apples and oranges, but Overstock was actually the first major retailer to accept bitcoin as a form of payment in 2014.

As Overstock's operations have expanded (the company now has a dedicated blockchain subsidiary, tZero, which hopes to publicly trade blockchain-based traditional assets in 2018), it seems investors in the U.S. public markets are using it as a proxy for an asset they're not easily able to acquire exposure to via something like an ETF.

In short, in the eyes of traders, it seems that what's good for bitcoin is good for Overstock's value, and vice versa.

Act I: 2013 bubbles burst

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Both OSTK and BTC experienced tremendous growth coming into 2014, and both reached a climax and began a steep descent just before the new year.

Their respective crashes developed with a few notable coincidences:

  • The first day Overstock accepted bitcoin payments (01/09/2014) marked the end of the first relief rally, a.k.a "dead cat bounce," for both bitcoin and OSTK. Both began a more than 50 percent decline hereafter (first white block).
  • In May 2014, both stabilized in a sideways fashion, followed by a minor upswing (second white block).
  • From mid-September to mid-October, both fell more than 20 percent and formed "V" shaped recoveries at the exact same time, give or take a couple days (third white block).
  • The fourth white block features BTC's official capitulation that took place on Jan. 14, 2018 when price dropped more than 30 percent in a single day. Two weeks later, OSTK fell more than 20 percent in a single day.

BTC went on to break its downtrend in June 2015, much earlier than OSTK, but their bear market structures remained very similar. 

Act II: The 2017 bull runs

The correlation gets a bit more interesting when BTC finally began a new uptrend above its 2013 peak. 

As seen in the above chart, BTC started this uptrend in May of 2017, which set the stage for a more than 1,500 percent bull run up to the end of the year. OSTK followed suit and broke its downtrend just a couple months later which lead to a surge of more than 400 percent by the end of the year.

Act III: Correlation tightens

In 2018, the correlation became so exact it arguably could no longer be ignored.

The precise occurrence of events began after OSTK and BTC ended their 2017 bull runs in a bubble-bursting fashion. At the time, each achieved all-time highs almost exactly one month apart. 

Precise correlations:

  • After the bubbles burst, both fell to their first bottom on the exact same day, February 6.
  • Both would go on to experience a relief rally of which both peaked on February 20.
  • The rallies were temporary and eventually bottomed out again with just days of each other
  • Last but not least, both prices fell to their lowest prices of 2018 on the exact same day, June 28.


Could it be an elaborate coincidence? Perhaps.

However, it's equally as likely that Overstock is now seen by investors more as a cryptocurrency company than an online retailer. With few, if any, ways for the traditional finance world to invest in cryptocurrencies, perhaps investing in OSTK is Wall Street's way of investing in the wild world of cryptocurrencies...

Disclosure: The author holds BTC, AST, REQ, OMG, FUEL, 1st and AMP at the time of writing.

Prices via Shutterstock; Charts via TradingView


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