Shares of Overstock.com (OSTK 1.89%) gained 35.7% in December 2017, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. By and large, the online retailer tapped into surging cryptocurrency markets.
Overstock is a well-known early adopter of blockchain technologies. The company has been accepting retail-level payments in bitcoin since 2014, and Overstock's own research and development of blockchain-based technologies has hatched a new platform for trading of stocks and other financial instruments.
So it's not surprising to see Overstock shares surge in a month where bitcoin prices peaked just below $20,000 per coin, up from $1,000 at the end of November. When the bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin mania took a step back in the middle of the month, so did Overstock's share prices.
The tight bond between bitcoin prices and Overstock's shares is real. In December, CEO Patrick Byrne announced a low-cost stock trading platform built on blockchain transactions, right after telling investors that he might want to sell Overstock's e-commerce operations to pour that windfall into more cryptocurrency and blockchain business ideas.
So investors are largely forgetting about Overstock's online retail operations to focus on the company's crypto-tech future. If you want to bet on the success of bitcoin and friends without actually owning any coins, Overstock could be a good way to get started. Or, if you're a cryptocurrency skeptic, you might want to stay far away from this stock until further notice.