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Bear of the Day: MicroStrategy (MSTR)

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I last wrote about MicroStrategy (MSTR - Free Report) as the Bear of the Day on January 12 when shares were trading $520 and Bitcoin was struggling to stay above $42,000.

A week later, MSTR made a new 52-week low as Bitcoin plunged to $34,000. If you don't know why the two are so closely correlated, I will explain.

MicroStrategy is the $5 billion business-intelligence software, logistics, and IT consulting firm that has become synonymous with the idea of the "Bitcoin balance sheet."

The company's iconic "laser eyes" CEO, Michael Saylor, is often seen on financial and social media expressing the virtues of accumulating Bitcoin for the inevitable run toward $100,000 and much higher.

Looking at the topline revenue growth of MSTR that might justify trading for over 9 times sales, we see 2021 was a year of projected 5.9% growth to $510.75 million.

The coming year doesn't improve much, with only 4.5% forecast growth to $533.7 million.

Profit Plunge on Bitcoin Blowup?

But the real story as far as the Zacks Rank Strong Sell designation revolves around the earnings picture.

On February 1, MicroStrategy delivered a quarterly loss of $8.41 per share versus the Zacks Consensus Estimate for a gain of $1.58. This compares to earnings of $2.07 per share a year ago. These figures are adjusted for non-recurring items.

This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of -632.28%. A quarter ago, it was expected that this business software company would post earnings of $1.12 per share when it actually produced earnings of $1.86, delivering a surprise of 66.07%

Despite the huge reported Q4 loss, analysts are projecting profits of $6.64 per share this year. But this is down 14% from the consensus before earnings.

This makes the P/E valuation pretty rich at over 60 times. And next year's EPS forecasts by analysts don't leave much to get excited about with flat to negative growth.

Laser Eyes Go Bloodshot: Where Does Bitcoin Fit In?

This is only based on the contributions of two analysts, but therein lies part of the problem. When analysts aren't sure how to model the earnings growth of a company that owns more Bitcoin than its market capitalization, some have preferred to close up their spreadsheets and move along elsewhere.

Here's what I found out in early January...

According to Fortune magazine, in late November recent new Bitcoin purchases by MSTR pushed their holdings to just over 121,000 of the precious "coins."

This lot was valued at nearly $7 billion then. And with an average purchase price of about $29,500 per coin, the company was showing a net gain of about $3.4 billion on those investments.

But Bitcoin has continued its epic slide from all-time highs above $68,000 and MSTR fortunes have fallen with it. The stock of the company was at nearly $900 in early November and this week bounced off of $450.

(end of excerpt from my January article)

In a statement following the release of its earnings, MSTR said it bought approximately 660 bitcoins for around $25 million between Dec. 30, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022.

The company paid an average price of $37,865 per bitcoin they revealed.

According to Coindesk in an article on February 2, "MicroStrategy now holds a total of 125,051 bitcoins, valued at about $4.8 billion at the current bitcoin price of $38,700."

Grasping MSTR Without BTC

I've written about MSTR in the past as an innovator in global trade logistics, with potential in using Blockchain applications. This core business should be of interest to many investors looking for intelligent exposure to the future of trade.

They had recently inked a deal with TD SYNNEX (SNX) whereby MicroStrategy's comprehensive software platform will include self-service data discovery, enterprise reporting, mobile applications, and embedded analytics to facilitate expansion of TD SYNNEX’s internet of things, data, and analytics portfolio.

As Bitcoin struggles to hang on to support above $40K, many bears are ringing the death rattle. Like Peter Schiff, who believes a bigger reckoning toward $30K is coming.

Whatever the fate of Bitcoin, various MSTR investors may see new opportunities on the horizon.

Just wait until the earnings estimates stabilize. The Zacks Rank will let you know.

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