These analysts make the ‘bull’ case for Coinbase’s stock

April 15, 2021, 6:37 PM UTC

For the crypto-enthusiast investor eyeing Coinbase after its public debut on Wednesday, take note: Buying into the cryptocurrency exchange might be a bumpy ride.

But bullish analysts are already coming out with some optimistic estimates of where Coinbase could be valued—and they’re saying the stock has huge potential.

In the crypto-assets space, “I expect that over time it’s going to be one of the fastest-growing categories in technology,” and “we think this is a great way to invest,” Gil Luria, head of institutional research at D.A. Davidson, told Fortune after raising his price target for Coinbase to $650 per share on Thursday.

However, he’s not sugarcoating it: “Retail investors that are looking at investing in Coinbase need to understand the layers and layers of risk to Coinbase’s business,” including the inherent volatility of crypto assets themselves, the threat of Coinbase getting hacked, and inevitable competition crowding in. But, Luria says, “the reason we recommend Coinbase is we believe that the reward is potentially so high that it justifies that level of risk.”

Luria’s price target is certainly heady; it suggests some 98% upside from where Coinbase closed on its first day of trading at $328 a pop. But he believes the valuation is warranted, given that he’s comparing the company not to other cryptocurrency brokerages (which, he says, there aren’t any true competitors), but to other high-growth stocks like Zoom, Okta, and Shopify in fast-growing areas that also boast sky-high valuations. “They have the same impact; they’re leading in a very fast-growing market that really has open-ended growth. And that’s how I see Coinbase as well,” he says.

Others, like Mark Palmer, an analyst at investment firm BTIG, put a “buy” rating on the stock with a $500 price target. He notes that “the company has several avenues through which it could build upon its first-mover advantage as an on-ramp for mainstream crypto investors by diversifying its revenue stream away from transaction fees (96% of 2020 net revenues) and leveraging its increasingly robust platform for institutional investors, whose adoption of crypto represents a key driver of growth going forward,” he wrote in a Thursday note alongside initiating coverage.

Palmer told Fortune following the report that he’s bullish on Coinbase’s ability to take an increasing chunk of the total crypto market (currently at 11.3% of global crypto assets, he notes), and believes, “Any name that has this kind of volatility lends itself to a trading strategy: taking advantage of the dips, adding at that point, shaping a position as the stock price increases, so I think that trading around a core position is probably going to be a strategy that you see some investors take,” he suggests.

Overall, analysts recommend keeping an eye on the stock as the markets go through price discovery in the next few weeks and months, and watching Coinbase’s upcoming earnings reports.

The “pitch for Coinbase”

But ultimately the “pitch for Coinbase,” according to D.A. Davidson’s Luria, is that it’s “a diversified basket of crypto assets; it doesn’t matter which crypto asset wins,” he argues. “What Coinbase does is it says, ‘You don’t have to figure it out,'” he notes, adding that “for growth investors that don’t really have exposure to crypto through the capital markets, this is a really good way to have that exposure.”

One investor already going big on Coinbase? Famed money manager Cathie Wood, the founder, CIO, and CEO of tech-focused firm ARK Invest. Wood snapped up over 749,000 shares of Coinbase at its debut on Wednesday, taking a roughly $246 million stake in the company across three of her funds.

Wood, who’s never been afraid to take a counter-consensus stance, has been a staunch believer in Bitcoin for years, and her move to invest was anything but a shocker to the Street. But even Wood is expecting a rocky road for the stock: She told Bloomberg on Wednesday, “We expect tremendous volatility in this; it’s going to be unstable in terms of investors and analysts understanding what Coinbase actually is,” Wood said.

“We’ll pick our spots around volatility,” she added. 

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