Coinbase Global (COIN) shares traded higher Thursday afternoon following a volatile first day on the public markets.
Shares rose about 1.3% to reach $332.64 per share as of 2:06 p.m. ET, coming off session highs of $349.18. A day earlier, Coinbase shares closed at $328.28, falling 14% from an opening price of $381. Shares reached as much as $429.54 during Wednesday’s afternoon session in the minutes immediately following Coinbase’s opening trade.
“They’re really setting the standard for what I think is going to unlock a lot of blue-chip crypto companies to come to the public market. I think this has been super well-received by the investment community,” Michael Sonnenshein, Grayscale Investments CEO, told Yahoo Finance.
“I think it’s likely to lift valuations across crypto companies,” he added.” And on the heels of that, you may see a new wave of VC investment into crypto companies looking for kind of that next Coinbase, and then also hopefully inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs to keep building within the crypto economy.”
Others, however, remained concerned over Coinbase’s valuation. Based on Coinbase’s closing price on Wednesday, the company commanded a fully diluted valuation of about $86 billion following its direct listing. That gave Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., a larger market capitalization than other major legacy exchanges, including the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), CME Group (CME) and the Nasdaq (NDAQ). At session highs on Wednesday, Coinbase’s valuation exceeded $112 billion, nearing the market capitalization of Goldman Sachs (GS).
“It may be the right stock, but just the wrong price right now, hence the volatility,” David Nelson, chief strategist at Belpointe Asset Management, told Yahoo Finance.
Coinbase stock is one of the few ways equity traders can invest in bitcoin, said Nelson, adding “there are other stocks out there to do it. I’ve told clients out there — both institutional and retail — if you want to play crypto, go out and buy crypto assets.”
Choppiness in shares of Coinbase spilled over to bitcoin (BTC-USD) as well. The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization fell about 1% Thursday after to trade below $63,000, retreating from its record high of more than $64,800 reached just a day earlier. Ethereum (ETH-USD), however, jumped to a record high, rising more than 3% to top $2,400.
But recent volatility aside, many strategists maintained that Coinbase’s public debut marked a watershed moment for cryptocurrency, reflecting the culmination of months of accelerating institutional adoption. Companies including Tesla (TSLA), Square (SQ), BNY Mellon (BNY) and PayPal (PYPL) have either added significant holdings of bitcoin to their balance sheets or begun facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies, and legacy banks Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) recently announced they would begin offering bitcoin exposure to their wealth management clients. And while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet approved exchange-traded funds directly holding bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, many believe a change in stance is looming.
“This is the beginning of what I consider the new financial system. Coinbase is the leader here in building this new financial system. Clearly, it’s evolved to a point where there’s no turning back,” Ross Gerber, president and CEO at Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, told Yahoo Finance. “This is just a momentous moment for the crypto business and industry, and finance in general, as an entirely new set of leaders.
However, with increased interest has also come the threat of competition. Coinbase makes the vast majority of its money via transaction fees from trades on its platform by retail and institutional users, and relies heavily on retail trading.
“Everybody’s going to undercut Coinbase,” added Gerber, whose firm has a partnership with Coinbase competitor Gemini. “Ninety percent of their revenues are from the retail trader paying over 2% in commissions. It’s an absurd amount. But it’s an unregulated market with no competition.”
“It’s possible that [Coinbase’s] margins are at the all-time high right now compared to what’s going to happen over the next several years as real competitors like Gemini and Bittrex and Binance undercut them in costs,” he added.
Coinbase’s revenue for the year ended Dec. 31 more than doubled to $1.3 billion. On the bottom line, Coinbase swung to a profit of $322.3 million for the full year 2020, versus a net loss of $30.4 million in 2019. For the first quarter of fiscal 2021, Coinbase estimated it would post net income of between $730 million and $800 million, compared to net income of just $32.26 million in the first three months of 2020.
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck
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