Riot Blockchain, RIOT, +9.31%, a digital currency miner, has gained nearly 1,500% thus far on the year mainly because of the surge in bitcoin price. Meaning that $1,000 invested in the company at its Dec. 31, 2019 closing price at $1.12 would now be valued at over $15,000.
By comparison, bitcoin prices, which is now trading at $28,400, have risen over 290% thus far in 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.24% has gained almost 7% over the same time period, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.13% has surged nearly 16%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.15% has returned about 44% in the year to date.
The increase in bitcoin price to records around $29,000 this year has helped to send the market valuation of Riot blockchain to an astounding level given the relatively recent pivot in its business strategy and its relative size.
FactSet data show that Riot Blockchain, based in Castle Rock, Colo., has six employees and has seen numerous changes at the top as the company quickly transitioned in 2017 from a company named BiOptix (and Venaxis back in 2000), to a major player in mining for BTC and ether, -2.51% coins.
Nonetheless, the company boasts an impressive value of $1.141 billion, from around $27 million around this time in 2019.
Bitcoin “mining” expends a massive amount of electricity and now requires specialized hardware. Miners play an important role in maintaining bitcoin’s self-sustaining network, running the decentralized software that verifies transactions.
Higher prices for coins can justify the high cost of mining for new coins, however. Now the daily profit from one bitcoin miner is $7.81, according to mining-calculator site BTC.com, supporting by recent rally.
Riot about a week ago stated that it would spend $35 million to purchase more mining capacity, known as Bitmain Antminers, bringing its equipment to around 37,000 miners.
A call to Riot’s CEO Jeffrey G. McGonegal wasn’t immediately returned.
To be sure, these kind of companies are a risky investment, experts warn, particularly if the price of the virtual asset drops, but the rise in shares of these companies reflect the newfound fervor around bitcoins and its ilk.
One key reason that such stocks are on the rise is because there aren’t many pureplay ways for investors to gain exposure to BTC in the stock market, with no exchange-traded fund in existence that would provide an easy entry point for normal investors.
It should be noted that one of the risks investing in the face of currents for these digital-currency related assets is a loss of money even when the stocks enjoy a meteoric rise. Despite, Riot’s surge, for instance, it is still off its most recent intraday high of $46.20 and its closing high of $38.60 put in on Dec. 19, 2017.