saylor’s-microstrategy-posts-loss-after-writing-down-bitcoin-holdings

(Bloomberg) — MicroStrategy Inc., the enterprise-software maker that is the largest publicly-traded holder of Bitcoin, posted a third-quarter loss after taking a writedown because of a decline in the value of the cryptocurrency.

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The Tysons Corner, Virginia-based company’s net loss widened to $143.4 million, or $10.09 a share, from $27 million, or $2.39, in the year-ago period. Revenue from the software business rose about 3% to $129.5 million, above the average forecast of $125.8 million of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

MicroStrategy, which has been buying Bitcoin in bulk since 2020 as a hedge against inflation, has been forced to take massive writedowns over the years following downturns in the volatile digital currency. Bitcoin has increased about 30% since falling 11% in the three months ended Sept. 30.

Co-founder Michael Saylor has turned the once struggling software company into a Bitcoin proxy for equity investors by accumulating more than $5.5 billion of the cryptocurrency. Saylor gave up his chief executive officer title last year, saying he would focus on the Bitcoin aspect of the company’s dual strategy.

The $33.6 million impairment loss for the quarter brings the cumulative total to over $2.2 billion, meaning the company has written off almost half the Bitcoin purchases it has made, according to Bloomberg calculations. MicroStrategy as of Oct. 31 held more than 158,000 Bitcoin at a total cost of $4.69 billion, or $29,586 each, according to a statement.

In a post-earnings conference call, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Kang said the company plans to purchase more Bitcoin.

Investors and analysts are beginning to debate whether MicroStrategy’s shares will continue to command a Bitcoin-related premium, given that the US Securities and Exchange Commission seems likely to approve ETFs that invest directly in Bitcoin after a key court loss earlier this year.

Since the middle of 2020, MicroStrategy shares have more than tripled as Bitcoin surged in value. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained about 40% during the same period.

ETF Competition

Saylor in the conference call pointed to advantages of investing in MicroStrategy stock instead of a US spot Bitcoin ETF.

“There will be fees to invest in a spot ETF,” Saylor said. “The ability to get Bitcoin exposure and not get charged a fee is another plus for us.”

Saylor said spot ETFs would “grow the market dramatically” and be “an onramp for capital on Wall Street to come into the Bitcoin ecosystem.”

Since the quarter ended, MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin holdings have risen in value by around $1.2 billion, which was about the company’s market capitalization when it started buying crypto in 2020.

Saylor said he will sell some of his MicroStrategy shares between January and April of next year in connection with expiring options.

–With assistance from Tom Contiliano.

(Updates with comments from executives from the sixth paragraph.)

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