Shares of Overstock.com (OSTK -4.17%) were higher by around 10% at 2:30 p.m. EDT on April 30. That follows a notable gain on April 29, driven largely by earnings. While some of today's price advance probably represents a continuation from the positive quarterly update, there's another factor that might be more important.
Investors looking at the price action in Overstock.com today shouldn't discount the good earnings news yesterday. After all, the company's first-quarter 2021 revenue increased an incredible 94% year over year. Adjusted earnings improved by some $0.90 per share, going from red ink to $0.54 per share of black ink. That's a pretty good showing, but there's another wrinkle here that long-term investors need to understand.
Just a few days ago, Overstock.com spun out its Medici Ventures digital currency/blockchain related businesses into a separate entity. The newly created partnership is being managed by Pelion Venture Partners with the goal of monetizing Overstock.com's investments in what has been a very hot sector. So Overstock.com isn't just seen as a retailer on Wall Street, with many investors looking at it as a way to play the cryptocurrency space as well.
That's led to big price swings that have nothing to do with its core retail operations. With some of the main digital currencies trading higher today, it's likely that the gain Overstock.com is seeing is at least partly, perhaps largely, related to its exposure to this investor-favored space.
Overstock.com has seen a massive share-price gain over the past year (up over 550%) and it is up around 70% so far in just the first four months of 2021. However, there have been some very notable ups and downs over both periods of time, largely driven by mercurial investor sentiment. There's really far more volatility than you would expect to see for a retailer, even given the pandemic backdrop, and that's probably the result of the digital currency/blockchain angle here.
This is not a great stock for risk-averse investors. Even those willing to take on greater risk should probably tread with caution, noting that owning this stock will sometimes feel like riding on a roller coaster.