- IPOs and SPACs harvest investor attention near peak positive sentiment.
- Regardless of the public listing method, weakness in bitcoin price shreds returns.
When looking at public markets, two distinct trends are apparent over the past few years: the rise of Special Purpose Acquisition Corporations (SPACs) as a listing method and the arrival of cryptocurrency firms on Wall Street.
The two trends often found themselves together, particularly among a new class of Bitcoin miners testing public waters for the first time. Indeed, nearly a dozen companies listed in 2021 including a few SPACs. More are expected in 2022.
While many investors place value on the public listing method, market figures point to another conclusion, one based on Bitcoin’s price. That is, be it an IPO, SPAC or reverse merger, you can’t fight a bitcoin bear market.
The most common path to public markets is through an IPO (initial public offering). A company opting for an IPO hires an investment bank to guide it through raising money from public investors. The process can take 6 to 18 months and, on average, costs $750,000.
SPACs have become a popular alternative to IPOs, largely due to the agile listing process reducing time, regulatory hurdles and cost. A SPAC is a “blank check company” with the sole purpose of acquiring or merging with an existing company. Once a merger agreement has been announced, the acquired company can be listed in as little as three months.
Another alternative to an IPO is a reverse takeover or merger. The concept and benefits are similar to a SPAC, but a private company is acquired by an established, publicly listed company.
Lastly, direct listings are another method of going straight to market without an underwriter. Exchange Coinbase famously opted for a direct listing in April 2021.
In the past six months, three miners went public via IPOs: Argo Blockchain (ARBK), Stronghold Digital Mining (SDIG) and Iris Energy (IREN). Since launching on the Nasdaq, the share prices are down 50.99%, 56.27% and 43.31%, respectively.
IPOs have garnered a reputation for poor performance after listing. A study conducted by Nasdaq calculated 66% of IPOs underperform the market and only 29% outperform (three years after listing).
In our case, we must consider bitcoin’s price action since mining stocks move in sync. Bitcoin has been dismal over the year, weighing down investor appetite for risk. A prime example of the current sentiment is bitcoin miner Rhodium Enterprise. The miner announced an IPO on Jan. 13, only to announce a postponement a few days later due to adverse market conditions.
Two SPACs were completed in the last six months resulting in the following miners going public: Cipher Mining (CIFR) and Core Scientific (CORZ). After the merger announcements, share prices jumped to a peak of roughly 45% for both miners. Post-merger, the share prices have tanked. CIFR and CORZ trended down 74.55% and 21.05% since the initial merger announcement.
Poor performance is not uncommon. Based on historical data, after a merger is announced, about 50% of SPACs experience record losses, with most losses reported after the business combination.
Three miners have announced to go public via SPACs: Griid (ADEX), Bitdeer (BSGA) and BitFuFu (ARIZ). Following the merger announcements, share price appreciation for the SPACs was mediocre as sentiment tapered. Griid and BitFuFu gained a measly 1%, while Bitdeer gained 4%. To date, all three are essentially flat.
Bitcoin miner Greenidge (GREE) completed its reverse merger with Support.com (SPRT) in September of last year. Support.com shares trended higher, gaining 1000% after the announcement, but excitement curtailed as the merger closed. Post-merger GREE is down 79.22%.
In June of last year, Gryphon Digital Mining and Sphere 3D (ANY) agreed to a reverse merger. As expected, the price marched higher in the following months, gaining nearly 500%. The deal is pending, and the price is down 76.28% since peaking.
Miners like Riot Blockchain, Marathon Digital and Hut 8 also witnessed record losses. Over the year, they are down 69.64%, 32.18% and 39.25%, respectively. Bitcoin’s poor performance is the likely culprit in shareholder losses.
After observing mining stocks based on their path to public markets, it’s safe to assume that the method doesn’t necessarily impact returns. There’s no fighting a bear market.
IPOs, SPACs and reverse mergers draw in investors leading to an initial price climb but bleed out following the listing. Generally, most deals are completed in a bull market and start fading as the market corrects. Even established miners were not able to weather the dismal performance in bitcoin. For long-term investors, it’s best to wait out the hype.