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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%, a choppy session saw shares close down 1.7% at $322.75. Nearly 40 million shares changed hands in Thursday’s session, making it among the most actively traded companies with a market value above $25 billion.
While the exchange’s $64 billion valuation tops the likes of Capital One Financial Corp. and Analog Devices Inc., it’s a far cry from $112 billion hit in its debut. Unlike traditional IPOs, where banks help set the company’s value, Coinbase’s direct listing leaves that up to market participants, helping contribute to a stock’s volatility.
Despite being unable to sustain its initial strength, positive sentiment toward the stock is starting to build. DA Davidson analyst Gil Luria raised the firm’s price target to a Street-high of $650 and touted the company’s “regulatory-friendly” approach to the nascent market.
Optimism was apparent on the buy-side as 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 and highlighted the potential increase in cryptocurrency’s total market capitalization beyond the current $2.1 trillion.
Coinbase’s valuation should reflect its position as a market leader similar to “other category leaders with open-ended growth opportunities” like Zoom Video Communications Inc., Tesla Inc., and Snowflake Inc., Palmer wrote in the note.
Retail investors were also interested in the stock, with data from VandaTrack showing day traders purchased a net $57 million of the shares during its debut on Wednesday.
Read more: Coinbase’s Retail Buyers Stung After Plowing in Early at Debut
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.
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.
(Updates share prices for market close in second paragraph.)
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