Coinbase fluctuates as jitters creep in despite street optimism
Coinbase Global Inc. seesawed on Thursday following a volatile trading debut, with momentum building around the stock even as some in the market struggled to place a value on the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.
After initially spiking as much as 6.4%, shares dropped as low as $321.54 in New York before rebounding again. More than 20 million shares changed hands by 11 a.m., making it among the most actively traded companies with a market value above $25 billion.
Coinbase debuted at $381 through a direct listing on Nasdaq Wednesday, and climbed as high as $429.54 -- sending the exchange’s valuation soaring above $112 billion at one point before slipping back as Bitcoin fell from record highs. Unlike traditional IPOs, where banks help set the company’s value, in direct listings that is left for market participants, which can contribute to a stock’s volatility
Despite being unable to sustain its initial strength, positive sentiment toward the stock is starting to build.
Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management bought about $246 million worth of the stock for three of its funds, while BTIG analyst Mark Palmer initiated coverage with a buy rating, setting a price target of $500 and touting the potential increase in cryptocurrency’s total market capitalization beyond the current $2.1 trillion.
Retail investors were also interested in the stock, with data from VandaTrack showing day traders purchased a net $57 mgillion of the shares during its debut on Wednesday.
Coinbase’s listing is seen pushing crypto even more into the mainstream of investing, exposing legions of potential buyers to digital tokens, which have grown into a $2 trillion industry in little more than a decade. Bitcoin, the original and biggest crypto coin, is valued at more than $1 trillion alone after a more than 800% surge in the past year.
At Wednesday’s closing price, Coinbase’s valuation on a fully diluted basis was about $86 billion. Given its size and visibility, Coinbase is likely to be popular with actively managed equity funds, particularly growth managers, essentially making a large swath of stock holders passive investors in crypto.
It is also worth noting that given Coinbase’s path to becoming a publicly traded company, existing investors are able to put their shares on the market immediately and don’t have to wait for a typical lockup period to expire.
Growing mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies has spurred Bitcoin to a 120% rally since December, as well as lifting other tokens to record highs. That’s despite lingering concerns over their volatility and usefulness as a method of payment. Attention from regulators is poised to intensify as Coinbase becomes a public company.