Shares of cryptocurrency brokerage Coinbase Global (COIN -12.09%) were down as much as 8% at the open of trading on Monday, before fully recovering to about breakeven as of 12:23 ET.
Coinbase makes money by taking a percentage of cryptocurrency trades on its platform, so it's affected by the price of those cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin (BTC 0.19%) experienced a flash crash on Saturday, which likely explains the drop in Coinbase's stock.
On Saturday, Bitcoin fell about 17% from $57,000 to $47,000 within 24 hours. Even by the standards of Bitcoin, which is a volatile asset, this was a very quick drawdown. Other cryptocurrencies also fell in tandem with Bitcoin.
The likely explanation was that many Bitcoin and crypto traders had used leverage to purchase digital currencies in hopes for a year-end rally, but were caught when the price fell along with other risk assets last week.
However, the price of Bitcoin seems to have stabilized on Monday, recovering to over $49,000 as of this writing. The stabilization after this weekend's volatility seems to have calmed nerves for Coinbase's shareholders. As of last quarter, Bitcoin accounted for 42% of all assets on Coinbase's platform. While that was the highest percentage of assets on Coinbase, Bitcoin's concentration was down from 57% a year ago, as other altcoins have gained in popularity.
While cryptocurrencies remain a speculative asset class, Coinbase may actually be the cheapest way to play this trend, as its price-to-earnings ratio is only roughly 20. That may seem screamingly cheap for a growth stock in the exciting world of crypto trading, but earnings are forecast to drop next year, as this year's financial results were driven by a frenzied period of trading in the second quarter of 2021 that's unlikely to repeat itself.
But although trading volumes have decreased, Coinbase continues to grow assets and receive net inflows on its platform, which is a good sign. While the stock remains risky, since cryptocurrencies are a new asset class and Coinbase will inevitably see competitive pressures, it remains one of the lower-cost ways to play this space.