Coinbase shares surge after bitcoin ETF euphoria helps return to profitability

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 6:41 AM

(Reuters) – Coinbase Global shares jumped 12% before the bell on Friday as strong trading volumes due to optimism around spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) helped the cryptocurrency exchange post its first profit since 2021.

The stock was trading at $186.06, set to hit its highest this year if current levels hold and on course to add nearly $5 billion to the company’s market value.

Fervent investor interest in popular crypto tokens since the second half of 2023 on anticipation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval for spot bitcoin ETFs drove a 57% rally in the price of bitcoin in the fourth quarter, helping Coinbase’s trading fees.

The company also quashed worries about the ETFs cannibalizing its fees. Some analysts have been concerned that users may tilt toward the low-cost ETFs instead of holding the assets directly.

“While we believe that the bitcoin ETFs could take some trading volumes away from Coinbase, their injection into the market, driving higher overall spot prices and trading volumes provide momentum to Coinbase’s business,” analysts at Canaccord Genuity wrote in a note.

Even after the approval of the ETFs last month, Coinbase has generated transaction revenue of $320 million during the first quarter as of Feb. 13, already more than 60% of what analysts are expecting for the entire three-month period.

However, others remain cautious. “While Coinbase continues to state they have not seen fee pressures to date, we believe it is unlikely they will be able to maintain their elevated take-rates in the medium to long term as competition intensifies,” said Michael Elliott, equity research analyst with CFRA Research.

The company on Thursday reported a profit of $1.04 per share for the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $2.46 per share a year earlier.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant and Manya Saini in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)