(Bloomberg) -- Shares of MicroStrategy Inc. have been hit hard this year as its once-winning approach of being a tech company that also holds billions of dollars in Bitcoin sends investors rushing for the exit. Analysts are holding fast in their bullishness.
Three of the four brokerages that follow the software company recommend buying the shares, with an average price target that’s more than triple where the stock closed Wednesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Under Chief Executive Officer Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy has spent about $4 billion on tokens as of March 31. While that was a hot strategy in the pandemic-fueled market boom -- when tech stocks and Bitcoin surged to record heights -- MicroStrategy is now mired in the historic selloff that’s hitting both areas, slumping 69% this year. That’s deeper than the Nasdaq 100 Index’s 29% decline and Bitcoin’s 55% drop.
“MicroStrategy provides equity investors in particular with not only exposure to Bitcoin, which currently they don’t have many efficient ways to access,” said Mark Palmer, an analyst at BTIG with a buy rating. The company also offers an operating business that generates cash with which to buy more Bitcoin, he said.
This isn’t MicroStrategy’s first rollercoaster ride. Its shares soared more than 3,400% during the dotcom bubble and subsequently wiped out all those gains during the collapse. The Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the rise of the retail trader, evoked memories of a similar rally thanks to Bitcoin’s surge: At one point, its shares were up more than 1,200%.
Now, they are on pace for their worst year since 2000, fueled by the crypto rout and bear-market plunge in tech. The Federal Reserve triggered the decline in both by aggressively raising interest rates to cool inflation, fueling concern that the economy is headed for a recession. Just last week, the world’s largest cryptocurrency plunged below $20,000 for the first time since late 2020.
The crypto crash generated losses for Saylor of about $3.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His 2.36 million MicroStrategy shares and options peaked in February 2021, when they were worth nearly $3 billion. They’ve since plunged 86% to $355 million. Meanwhile, the Bitcoins he said in October 2020 that he owned are worth $350 million, down 71% from their $1.22 billion peak.
Palmer’s share-price target of $950 is the highest among analysts covering the stock, more than five times MicroStrategy’s closing price of $170.91. He also estimates that Bitcoin will more than quadruple from its current level to hit $95,000 by 2023.
Brent Thill of Jefferies is the only non-bull on MicroStrategy, rating the stock hold with a $180 price target. Management needs to focus on the core software business, which declined 3% in the first quarter, Thill wrote in a June 16 note.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the potential multibillion-dollar writedowns that the company could be facing. Total impairment charges on MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin holdings already reached roughly $1 billion at the end of the last quarter. The company has also come under scrutiny due to the possibility that it could face a margin call on a $205 million loan it took out this year to buy more Bitcoin.
Saylor, however, told investors this month not to worry about a potential margin call, saying the company has ample collateral to pledge if necessary.
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