Cryptocurrency mining has become less profitable over the last quarter, as the prices for currencies like Bitcoin and Ether have nosedived since late December and early January.
But with its expansion plans moving along as expected, Vancouver-based HIVE Blockchain Technologies (HIVE Blockchain Technologies Stock Quote, Chart, News: TSXV:HIVE) is still a “Buy,” says David Kwan, analyst with PI Financial, who on Tuesday lowered his price target for HIVE.
On Tuesday, HIVE announced the completion of the second phase of its GPU facility in Sweden, upping its power capacity to 17.4 MW, representing a 65 per cent increase. The company’s Phase 3 is expected to be ready by the end of April, adding another 6.8 MW of capacity.
“The completion of Sweden Phase 2 represents an important milestone for the Company as HIVE continues to grow operations and execute its 2018 development pipeline. Despite recent crypto market conditions, HIVE’s current run-rate gross mining margins continue to be very healthy, and our operating costs on the first phase of Sweden to date have been materially lower than expected. This growth in our assets and sustained profits combined with our excess cash on hand has us well positioned to continue creating growth and shareholder value” said Harry Pokrandt, CEO and Director of HIVE, in a press release.
The downturn in cryptocurrency prices has meant a pullback in share prices for miners like HIVE, which has lost 2/3 of its value since the beginning of January. But Kwan says that because of the correction in cryptocurrency prices, the increase in network hash rates (essentially, the amount of computing power worldwide dedicated to cryptocurrency mining) has been less dramatic over recent months, meaning that operating costs for companies like HIVE are lower.
“The growth in the Bitcoin network hash rate and difficulty has slowed materially in recent weeks, while the Ethereum network hash rate and difficulty has flattened in the last month and actually declined in the last week, as mining has become much less profitable given the pullback in prices and surge in mining activity in the last year,” says Kwan in a corporate update to clients.
Overall, the impact of these developments is “Neutral,” according to Kwan.
“We have adjusted our estimates to reflect actual market data for Q1 CY18, the decline in cryptocurrency prices, and ‘materially lower than expected’ operating costs in Sweden,” he says.
The analyst’s revised revenue estimates for HIVE are $13.1 million (all figures in US dollars unless otherwise noted) in FY18 (was $13.2 million), $56.6 million in FY19 (was $91.0 million), and $71.9 million in FY20 (was $111.6 million). His adjusted EBITDA estimates are $6.5 million in FY18 (was $6.4 million), $22.8 million in FY19 (was $55.1 million), and $28.8 million in FY20 (was $66.4 million).
The analyst’s reiterated “Buy” recommendation and “Speculative” risk rating come with a revised target of C$1.80 (was C$4.50), representing a 39.5 per cent return on investment as of publication date.