I suggested that Bitcoin (BTC 0.24%) was a worthwhile buy two months ago, as long as you were prepared for some uncomfortable volatility. The leading cryptocurrency is 23% cheaper today, and it still strikes me as a reasonable investment, with the usual reminders to back up the truck very slowly and always be prepared for more volatility.
Maybe you're not quite ready to take the Bitcoin plunge. Still, you're interested in the cryptocurrency market and curious enough to dip your toes into the waters through more-traditional investment tools. Here are a couple of high-quality stocks with significant ties to Bitcoin.
Coinbase: A direct bet on cryptocurrency (but not on Bitcoin, exactly)
Buying shares of Coinbase Global (COIN 7.73%) is just about the most direct bet you can make on the cryptocurrency market without directly owning Bitcoin and other leading digital currencies. And the front-runner among American crypto exchanges has some unique attributes that make it a much safer investment than any individual cryptocurrency in the current market.
You are not putting all your digital eggs in one basket. Let's imagine that some unknown or not-yet-invented cryptocurrency comes along that does everything Bitcoin does, but better. The coin's first-mover advantage could melt away in a hurry, leaving Bitcoin owners disappointed. But I would bet a pretty penny that the new top dog will trade on Coinbase's platform, keeping the cryptocurrency exchange happy and healthy while the crypto market evolves around it.
Therefore, Coinbase shares are a good way to get started in the cryptocurrency sector without picking long-term winners among different digital tokens. As long as the broader crypto market is headed upward (working through slow patches and terrifying drops on the way but always getting back on track again), this stock should serve you well.
On top of all that, Coinbase shares are nearly 50% below their all-time high on April 14, the stock's first day of trading. Admittedly, the stock isn't exactly lounging in Wall Street's bargain bin -- it trades at 98 times trailing earnings and 16 times sales -- but that's still a strong discount from the heady market debut.
Tesla: A big Bitcoin buyer
Electric vehicle giant Tesla (TSLA 4.67%) has a rocky Bitcoin history. The company spent $1.5 billion on the leading cryptocurrency over the last year, and Tesla used to accept it as payment for a new car. Now, CEO Elon Musk has paused that payment option until Bitcoin miners can prove that they use at least 50% renewable energy in their operations. That would presumably open the door for further cash investments as well.
Now, $1.5 billion is a serious chunk of change; Tesla's investment is one of the largest cash bets on Bitcoin so far. But it's pocket change in the context of Tesla's massive market presence. The cryptocurrency accounts for roughly 0.2% of Tesla's current market capitalization, or 7% of the company's cash equivalents.
The reasonably small scale of Musk's real-world Bitcoin investment limits both the potential returns and the downside risks. That's good enough for me. Tesla is one of the largest holdings in my portfolio, and I expect big things from this stock in the long run. The Bitcoin exposure is just an interesting wrinkle in the automaker's bigger picture. But the bears have pushed Tesla's stock price nearly 30% below January's all-time highs, so this looks like a decent entry point for new investors.