Bitcoin hoarder MicroStrategy has so far struggled in the New Year, and spot bitcoin ETFs seem to be making it worse.
Shares in the data software firm have slipped more than 20% so far this month, wiping about $4 billion from its market value.
Bitcoin (BTC) meanwhile is up more than 10% in January. MSTR has still nearly tripled in the past year.
MicroStrategy holds 189,150 BTC ($8.7 billion) on its balance sheet, which awkwardly means its bitcoin is worth over $1 billion more than the actual company.
Although, the true value of MicroStrategy’s bitcoin is somewhat lower considering it bought some of its bitcoin with borrowed funds.
Former CEO Michael Saylor’s plan to sell 315,000 company shares, currently valued at $170.5 million, surely hasn’t helped. Saylor flagged his intent to cash in part of his sizable stake (about a quarter of the float) on a November conference call.
The maverick bitcoin bull’s plan is to sell 5,000 shares per trading day until April 5. So far, he’s disclosed offloading 30,000 shares for $19.1 million — which works out to be $637.76 per share on average. MSTR currently trades about 16% below that price.
Bitcoin goes up, MicroStrategy goes down
Saylor hadn’t sold any company stock in 12 years, per OpenInsider data. He’s said he aims to spend some of the generated cash on bitcoin for his personal stash and otherwise meet financial obligations.
In March last year, Saylor failed to have the court dismiss tax evasion charges levied by the District of Columbia, which alleged the former CEO owed more than $25 million in taxes. It’s unclear whether those are the obligations to which Saylor had referred.
Another $7.7 million in shares were sold by other execs including current CEO Phong Le and Chief Accounting Officer Jeanine Montgomery since the start of December.
Spot bitcoin ETFs made proxy stocks less attractive
MicroStrategy has served as a proxy investment for bitcoin ever since Saylor began buying up the crypto in mid-2020, with the two assets positively correlated about a year after the firm’s first purchases.
Those wanting to add exposure to bitcoin to their equity portfolios could just add MSTR, even though the stock is known to be more volatile than BTC.
Now that investors have spot bitcoin ETFs, MicroStrategy could struggle to appeal. Some analysts believe MicroStrategy’s underlying software business, which has been generally profitable over the past 10 years, could bridge the gap by mitigating bitcoin volatility.
Read more: Bitcoin ETF starting gate: A look at the spot funds set to start trading today
Crypto exchange Coinbase is another such case. COIN has however tanked today as trading volumes for spot bitcoin ETFs threaten to break records. So too have bitcoin mining stocks Riot and Marathon.
Coinbase stock is however still up more than 220% since this time last year, more returns than bitcoin and MicroStrategy.
Insiders at Coinbase have sold more than $256 million in company stock in that time, including CEO Brian Armstrong and general counsel Paul Grewal, among others.
As a cohort, Coinbase insiders over the past year sold their shares for $112.66 on average, and COIN now trades more than a quarter up on that price.
Coinbase has only posted an annual net profit three times since 2017. The company hasn’t yet disclosed total earnings for last year but showed a $2 million net loss in the third quarter.
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