BTIG upgrades Marathon Digital as Bitcoin draws attention after spot ETF approvals

January 17, 2024 3:51 PM EST
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Price: $16.50 +9.78%

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(Updated - January 17, 2024 3:55 PM EST)

Analysts at BTIG upgraded Marathon Digital (NASDAQ: MARA) from Neutral to Buy on Wednesday, citing the positive effects that the recent watershed approval of Bitcoin ETFs is having on the flagship cryptocurrency and crypto mining stocks.

After hitting the $47,000 mark earlier in the month, Bitcoin retreated below the $43,000 threshold despite the SEC’s approval of 11 spot ETFs on January 10.

The move represents a pivotal moment for the crypto industry as it is widely expected to draw significantly more institutional capital into the ecosystem.

Since their debut, these funds hold roughly $2 billion in Bitcoin and appear to be driving a portion of fund flows away from miners, BTIG analysts led by Gregory Lewis noted.

“On the back of the weakness in the miners and Marathon's decision to pivot into infrastructure late last year, we upgrade to Buy from Neutral.

The strategists said MARA can benefit from the recent uptick in transaction fees, particularly in December, as they can significantly boost profitability for crypto mining firms.

“During periods of less BTC activity, fees can drop into the low single digits, but transactions on the BTC blockchain have increased to ~500k/day (think BTC users paying up to get transactions processed quicker) up ~2x compared to early 2023.”

As a result, miners like Marathon with 5% of global hash could potentially earn roughly 1,400 BTC per month for validating blocks, which translates to $60 million in revenue at current Bitcoin prices.

“However, this excludes fees (incremental revenue for a miner), which at a transaction level of ~500k/day (~$12/transaction), points to an incremental ~$9M of revenue (~215 extra BTC or ~13% of total monthly revenue (think BTC + fees)),” BTIG wrote.

MARA fell over 3.1% on Wednesday.

By Vahid Karaahmetovic

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