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Coinbase misses on top and bottom line in first earnings report as a public company

·Technology Editor
·3 min read

Coinbase (COIN), the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., missed analysts' expectations on the top and bottom line in its Q1 2021 earnings report, its first ever as a public company.

  • Revenue: $1.80 billion versus $1.81 billion expected

  • Earnings per share: $3.05 versus $3.09 expected

Coinbase employee Daniel Huynh holds a celebratory bottle of champagne as he photographs outside the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Wall Street will be focused on Coinbase Wednesday with the digital currency exchange becoming a publicly traded company. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Coinbase employee Daniel Huynh holds a celebratory bottle of champagne as he photographs outside the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, April 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The company's stock was down more than 3% following the announcement.

"Our strong Q1 2021 results reflect the strength of the crypto price cycle we entered in Q4 2020. We saw many crypto assets reach all time high prices, high levels of volatility, and increased interest across the entire cryptoeconomy," the company said in a statement.

According to the report, Coinbase now has more than 56 million verified users up from 34 million in the same quarter last year, including over 8,000 institutions and 134,000 "ecosystem partners."

The company, however, also pointed to potential headwinds from competitors in the crypto space.

"Our competitors are supporting certain crypto assets that are experiencing large trading volume and growth in market capitalization that we do not currently support, as well as offering new products and services that we do not offer."

The firm, though, says it welcomes the competition.

Coinbase's earnings follows news on Thursday that rival exchange Binance is under investigation by both the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service for potential activity related to money laundering and tax offenses, according to Bloomberg.

Coinbase went public in April at $381 a share, but has been trading well below that since, opening at $276.46 on Thursday. The company’s stock serves as a means for investors looking to dabble in the cryptocurrency space, without having to deal with the often violent swings in pricing associated with the currencies themselves.

Those kinds of pricing changes have been on full display over the past week as dogecoin (DOGE-USD), which was flying high leading up to last week’s episode of "Saturday Night Live," with prices rising as high as 70 cents ahead of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s debut. Dogecoin fell to below 50 cents when Musk called the cryptocurrency a “hustle” on the show.

Musk dealt similar damage to bitcoin (BTC-USD), which plummeted as much as 12% following his announcement on Wednesday that Tesla would no longer accept the currency for vehicle purchases, citing the dramatic amount of energy required to mine cryptos. (Musk announced in March that Tesla would accept bitcoin as payment.)

Coinbase, meanwhile, is able to largely avoid dealing with the day-to-day highs and lows of crypto thanks to the fact that it is an exchange for those trading crypto.

In a May 10 research note initiating coverage of the firm, Oppenheimer’s Owen Lau slapped an outperform rating on the stock, writing, “We view COIN as an enabler of crypto innovation which solves some of the pain points in the existing financial system, and leverages its trading arm to monetize the success.”

Mizuho America’s research analyst Dan Dolev, meanwhile, raised concerns that Coinbase’s reliance on commissions might be a risk in the future, as more competitors enter the space.

“COIN's fees may face downward pressure from competing platforms following the footsteps of zero-commission stock trading. This is because platforms like PayPal and Cash App primarily use crypto trading as engagement tools,” he wrote ahead of the company’s earnings.

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