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Kerrisdale eyes bearish link between MicroStrategy and Bitcoin

Kerrisdale Capital’s recent financial maneuver, involving a short position on MicroStrategy shares while purchasing Bitcoins, marks a significant moment in the intersection of traditional equity markets and the burgeoning cryptocurrency sector. This move is predicated on the firm’s analysis that MicroStrategy’s valuation, buoyed by the crypto market’s growth, has reached levels that are not sustainable based on fundamental financial principles.

The Core of Overvaluation Concerns

MicroStrategy, a company that has significantly transformed its business model to incorporate Bitcoin holdings, saw its stock price soar by over 200% at the start of the year. This meteoric rise is primarily attributed to its aggressive investment in Bitcoin.

Kerrisdale’s analysis suggests that for MicroStrategy’s stock valuation to align with its Bitcoin holdings, the cryptocurrency would need to reach an unlikely price of $177,000 per coin. This figure starkly contrasts current market prices and historical data, suggesting an inflated valuation driven by speculative trading rather than underlying business fundamentals.

Bitcoin is now easily obtainable through brokerages, crypto exchanges and more recently low fee exchange-traded products (ETPs) and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Kerrisdale Capital

Shifting Grounds for Bitcoin Investment

One pivotal argument presented by Kerrisdale revolves around the changing landscape for investors looking to gain exposure to Bitcoin. With the advent of spot Bitcoin ETFs and exchange-traded products (ETPs), investors have new, potentially more efficient avenues to invest in cryptocurrency.

This development challenges MicroStrategy’s previously unique position as a de facto Bitcoin investment vehicle, potentially undermining the premium its stock has enjoyed.

Kerrisdale critically assesses the premium on MicroStrategy’s shares, examining the company’s core business operations, which is deemed excessive in light of the company’s actual Bitcoin holdings.

Despite a market capitalization of $28 billion and Bitcoin assets valued at about $15.2 billion, the implied valuation suggests a Bitcoin price far exceeding current levels. This discrepancy raises flags about the sustainability of MicroStrategy’s market valuation and the rationale behind its stock price premium.

Market Reaction and Wider Implications

The release of Kerrisdale’s critique led to a notable decline in MicroStrategy’s stock price, a testament to the market’s sensitivity to such valuation concerns. Further compounding this skepticism is a report from S3 Partners highlighting a substantial short interest in MicroStrategy and other crypto-related stocks.

This data underscores a broader market apprehension towards companies heavily invested in cryptocurrencies, reflecting concerns over volatility and valuation sustainability.

While MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin strategy has dominated headlines, it is crucial to examine the company’s core business operations. Kerrisdale’s analysis reveals that a disproportionate share of the company’s value is attributed to its Bitcoin holdings, overshadowing its software analytics segment.

This imbalance raises questions about the long-term viability of MicroStrategy’s business model, particularly as it continues to pursue aggressive Bitcoin acquisitions financed through debt and equity offerings, potentially diluting shareholder value.

MicroStrategy’s trading history and basic common sense suggests the current inflated premium will contract, much as it has on prior occasions, providing a compelling opportunity for a pair trade

Kerrisdale Capital

The Stagnation of Bitcoin Holdings Per Share

An intriguing aspect of MicroStrategy’s strategy is the unchanged ratio of Bitcoin per share despite an overall increase in Bitcoin holdings. This phenomenon indicates a dilution effect, where the increase in total assets does not translate to an increased value for individual shareholders, challenging the perception of growth in shareholder value through Bitcoin investments.

Kerrisdale’s report revisits the arguments supporting MicroStrategy’s stock premium, including the absence of management fees and the liquidity of its shares as a proxy for Bitcoin investment.

Despite these considerations, Kerrisdale must still be convinced of the premium’s justification, citing the significant risks associated with MicroStrategy’s extensive Bitcoin exposure and the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency investment options.

The days when MicroStrategy shares represented a rare, unique way to gain access to Bitcoin are long over.

Kerrisdale Capital

The analysis provided by Kerrisdale Capital prompts a reevaluation of MicroStrategy’s valuation and strategy and the broader implications for investors seeking exposure to cryptocurrencies through equity markets.

It highlights the complexities and risks of valuing companies heavily invested in volatile assets like Bitcoin. It underscores the need for investors to approach such investments with caution and thorough analysis.

As the cryptocurrency market evolves and traditional financial instruments adapt to incorporate these digital assets, MicroStrategy’s case is a pivotal study of the challenges and opportunities at the nexus of technology, finance, and investment strategy.