Bitcoin Needs to Drop 80% Before Marathon Loses Money on Mining
(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin has a long way to drop before mining the digital token becomes unprofitable for North America’s largest crypto mining company.
After factoring in energy and hosting costs, the breakeven rate on Bitcoin for Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. is roughly $6,500, according to Fred Thiel, the Las Vegas-based company’s chief executive officer. Even with this week’s drop from an all-time high of $68,991 to around $60,000, the world’s largest cryptocurrency would need to plunge 80% before hitting the breakeven level.
“It’s obviously a very profitable business,” Thiel said on Bloomberg’s “QuickTake Stock” streaming program. “We can ride this market for quite a long time. Bitcoin would have to drop obviously 80% before it starts getting to be a challenging situation for us, so we’re quite comfortable with where our costs are today.”
The breakeven estimate serves as a reminder on how profitable Bitcoin mining can be for larger-scale companies and helps to explain the almost fivefold increase in Marathon’s share price this year.
Daily miner revenue is hovering near record highs, according to data compiled by crypto derivatives provider FRNT Financial Inc. Marathon has among the lowest mining costs per coin, DA Davidson analyst Chris Brendler -- who has a buy rating on the shares -- told Bloomberg. Miners earn new Bitcoin by solving complex mathematical equations that secure the blockchain network while processing transactions.
Marathon’s shares plunged about 33% this week after a quarterly filing showed that the company received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to a partnership for a Montana data facility. Thiel declined to comment further on the probe.
The company is planning upgrades to operations, with 130,000 previously purchased machines expected to go live from now to mid-2022. At the end of the third quarter, Marathon raised their hash rate, or their computational power, to 2.7 exahashes per second and generated 1,252 self-mined coins -- a 91% jump from second-quarter production; it held roughly 7,053 Bitcoin by quarter-end.
Marathon tapped the debt markets this week to sell convertible bonds -- an offering that was increased to $650 million. The proceeds will be used to upgrade mining equipment and potentially fund acquisitions, Thiel said.
“Having cash on the balance sheet allows us to take advantage of opportunities to buy more miners, or we could potentially acquire miner companies, we could invest in technologies that could dramatically lower or improve the energy efficiency of our mining operations,” Thiel said. “We want to be agile, we want to have optionality.”
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