Why Coinbase stock could rise another 36%, according to Goldman Sachs

May 24, 2021, 5:58 PM UTC

You can add Goldman Sachs to the list of Coinbase bulls.

The firm initiated coverage of the newly public cryptocurrency exchange on Monday with a “buy” rating, assigning it a 12-month price target of $306 per share—implying that the stock could soar another 36% from its Friday close price. (As of early afternoon trading on Monday, the stock is at $226, having had a rough debut so far in the public markets.)

Among the many reasons for that call? Goldman analysts believe Coinbase is “the best way to gain exposure to the expansion of the crypto-native ecosystem,” the analysts wrote in the Monday report.

Though it’s still a “nascent” ecosystem and not a big part of Goldman’s base case for Coinbase, the firm says it’s watching the growth and adoption of technologies like stablecoin-based payments; “innovations” in DeFi, or decentralized autonomous blockchain applications; and NFTs, or non-fungible tokens and the “creation of markets for tokenized, real-world assets.”

“If meaningful parts of the economy can transition to blockchain and crypto-native technology over time,” the analysts wrote, “we see significant opportunity for [Coinbase] to benefit from its status as a critical element of the financial infrastructure for the ecosystem.” (The analysts also point out that Coinbase’s security and regulatory compliance helps bolster that case.)

Apart from Coinbase’s role in the blockchain ecosystem, Goldman sees strong growth in the firm’s transaction revenues, far and away Coinbase’s biggest slice of sales, predicting that near term, “continued strong growth in users [will be] driving solid organic growth for the business.”

Much like other analysts, the Goldman team note that investors may be “too focused” on the price of stalwart coins traded on Coinbase, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, instead of on the fact that volatility itself is a boon for the firm’s business, just like at traditional stock or securities brokerages. D.A. Davidson analyst Gil Luria recently told Fortune on an especially rough day for crypto last week that, “The level of volatility is what really drives results for Coinbase—people buying and selling Bitcoin… not Bitcoin going up or down.”

Like others on the Street, Goldman doesn’t see trading fees as the only name of the game for the longer term: The firm notes that “While just 4% of [Coinbase’s] revenue now comes from non-trading activities, we believe subscription and services revenue has the potential to see outsized growth relative to the core run rate of the business as [Coinbase] rolls out additional ancillary services over time,” including collateralized lending (which they describe as similar to margin lending) and the further growth of the firm’s institutional business. Indeed, Goldman’s report notes that “while we believe the core business today offers an attractive growth profile with the potential to drive high levels of profitability, we see significant white space for new initiatives to drive more stable and recurring revenue streams.”

Of course, Goldman is eyeing a few key risks for Coinbase, too. That includes regulation of the cryptocurrency space, lower volatility and declining prices of coins, and lower commission rates.

Indeed, as D.A. Davidson’s Luria noted, “long term, Coinbase’s price and value is going to be tied to the overall success of the crypto economy, which is tied to crypto prices.”

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