Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This Nasdaq Crypto Play Has Wall Street Shaking Its Head

By Dan Caplinger – Jun 9, 2021 at 3:32PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Even as cryptocurrencies bounce back, this stock isn't getting much love.

Investors always like to get in on hot new trends, and the cryptocurrency revolution certainly qualifies. Interest in digital currencies intensified toward the end of 2020 and into 2021. And even after a massive crash that lopped half or more off the prices of some tokens, the area is still getting a huge amount of attention from investors trying to gauge the long-term prospects for cryptocurrencies and other related applications made possible by blockchain technology.

The Nasdaq  exchange recently became the home of the hottest publicly traded crypto stock. Coinbase Global (COIN 1.90%) has become a leading provider of cryptocurrency brokerage services, and its stock was up by almost 2% in late afternoon trading Wednesday as prices of leading cryptocurrencies rebounded from recent declines. But at least one Wall Street analyst is less than optimistic about Coinbase's long-term prospects.

Two people working on a cryptocurrency mining rig.

Image source: Getty Images.

Not quite glittering like gold

Coinbase's gain came as prices for several major cryptocurrencies made solid advances. Most top tokens were up by anywhere from 5% to 13% on the day, even though many had fallen to their worst levels in months just recently.

It's reasonable for Coinbase's stock price to track the ups and downs of crypto tokens. When investors are excited about cryptocurrencies, that leads to an increase in trading, which gives the company more revenue. If investors decide that the space no longer has any long-term promise, then Coinbase's trading volumes would likely suffer, hurting its revenues.

In the short run, Coinbase has emerged as a premier provider of crypto brokerage services. Many institutional investors have joined the individual investors who gravitated to its platform, and the growing popularity of its Coinbase Pro offering could well help the company build even greater customer loyalty.

Say goodbye to fees?

On the other hand, one Wall Street analyst believes that Coinbase faces a much steeper uphill battle. Raymond James started covering it Tuesday, and gave it an underperform rating.

It's undeniable that Coinbase has a significant head start in gathering people interested in cryptocurrency trading. In a business in which reputation is key, it has managed to overcome the innate distrust that many investors have about crypto, allowing it to add large numbers of new accounts over the past year.

As Raymond James sees it, though, the problem is that there's nothing stopping other companies from entering the space and challenging Coinbase's leadership role. Because the platform derives a large portion of its overall revenues from trading commissions, the emergence of new competitors could challenge its ability to keep charging as much as it does.

Investors don't have to look too far to find parallels. Stockbrokers used to take in impressive amounts of fee revenue. Even during the discount brokerage era, major players still brought in billions of dollars from customers paying to trade stocks. Yet as time went on, intensifying competition forced commissions ever lower, a trend that culminated in the recent elimination of stock trading fees by nearly every major brokerage.

If the same thing happens in the realm of cryptocurrency trading, then Coinbase's stock could continue along the downward slope it has been on since its first day of trading. If the company can keep adding useful new services and features that allow it to differentiate itself from would-be disruptors, however, then its stock price might yet return to the levels it was trading at a couple of months ago.


Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Coinbase Global, Inc. Stock Quote
Coinbase Global, Inc.
$63.05 (1.90%) $1.17
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$10,850.24 (-0.16%) $-28.16

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.