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Buy Bitcoin or start mining? HashWorks CEO points to ‘attractive investment yield’ in BTC mining

Bear markets are for building, which is exactly why HashWorks CEO Todd Esse says BTC’s current pricing presents an opportunity for retail investors and…

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Bear markets are for building, which is exactly why HashWorks CEO Todd Esse says BTC’s current pricing presents an opportunity for retail investors and industrial mining companies.

Recently, bad news has abounded, and the resulting fear is real. DeFi is looking dead, altcoins completed their lifecycle by returning back to $0 (I guess that’s a joke), and Bitcoin’s (BTC) price fell lower than even the smartest brains in the room expected. 

A unifying theme of the most recent bull market appears to have been greed. Everyone got too confident and too greedy, and it shows by the amount of debt and leverage that is being unwound as 3AC, Celsius, BlockFi and Voyager contend with the real threat of going belly up.

It seems Bitcoin miners and BTC mining companies also were not immune to the sentiment of over-exuberance and the belief that “up only” was a fact until Bitcoin’s price hit the long-awaited $100,000 target most analysts stuck to.

Historically, Bitcoin miners are an elusive species that are quiet and unwilling to spill the sauce to the public, but Cointelegraph had some success in securing a moment with HashWorks CEO and founder Todd Esse to discuss the current state of the mining industry and his predictions on where the market might head over the next year.

Cointelegraph: Bitcoin is trading below the realized price, and it is also below the miners’ cost of production. The price is also below the previous all-time high and the hash rate is dropping. Typically on-chain analysts pinpoint these metrics hitting extreme lows as a generational purchasing opportunity, thoughts?

Todd Esse: I do believe that current prices represent an investment opportunity as current prices likely don’t reflect profitable mining margins as the industry is currently structured. In our opinion though, prices may continue to remain under pressure as the mining industry and associated leverage around it is reset or re-configured.

CT: What is the state of the BTC mining industry right now? We’ve heard that leveraged miners are going bust, sub-optimal, inefficient miners are turning off, gear could be in the process of being seized or liquidated at firesale. Listed miners' stock price and cash flow is also looking pretty bad right now. What’s happening behind the scenes and how do you see this impacting the industry of the next six months to a year?

TE: In our opinion, mining still offers an attractive investment yield for those who are selective about approach and have long term goals. Much of the mining capacity currently installed is with ASICs in the sub 85 TH/s range and with energy contracts that haven’t been managed as a traditional large scale energy consumer would.

We’ve seen this movie before, right? Easy money + poor discipline = unbalanced risks. We could easily see a protracted period here where the mining industry consolidates and allows different investment capital to enter into the market.

Related: Friday’s $2.25B Bitcoin options expiry might prove that $17.6K wasn’t BTC’s bottom

CT: Exactly why is now a good or bad time to start mining? Are there particular on-chain metrics or profitability metrics that you’re looking at or is it just your gut feeling?

TE: Typically periods of distress and shifts in the accepted paradigm will offer advantages to new entrants. Our sole focus is to take advantage of these emerging opportunities.

CT: If I have $1 million in cash, is it a good time to set up an operation and start mining? What about $300,000, $100,000, $10,000? At the $40,000 to $10,000 seed fund range, why might it not be a good time to set up an at home or industrial-sized mining farm?

TE: If you had $1 million cash, it might be a good time to opportunistically pick up some BTC. Fully loaded production prices for the major miners aren’t far from these levels. I see it as difficult to maintain these levels until ASICs drop further in value. I think the time for home mining has largely passed as a result of new dynamics in the energy industry.

I would encourage those looking for yield to seek mining opportunities with companies like Compass Mining or other “cloud’ miners whose equipment and energy contracts may yield an attractive investment as these dynamics change.

We believe as a result of current and expected disruptions in the market, as well as greater acceptance of immersion solutions, there will continue to be attractive opportunities to build mining operations at scale.

CT: Does Bitcoin price dropping below its previous all-time high for the first time ever have any significant future ramification on the fundamentals of the asset and industry?

TE: In our opinion, no. Historical comparisons are difficult to rely on when dealing with an emerging commodity, and transformative technical asset such as BTC. Miners are producing BTC, given a set of inputs (computing power, access to capital, and energy) and the output price doesn’t always reflect the cost of production at all.

Mining BTC at scale fundamentally isn’t very different from producing oil and gas or other commodities. Improvements in drilling technology transformed North America’s position in global energy markets.

When oil and gas prices crashed during the early stages of the pandemic no one questioned whether or not we needed to drive cars or heat our homes anymore. Mining supports the blockchain, and proof-of-work computing will prove to offer our grid the ability to transition to a renewable energy future.

We are committed to being an innovative and constructive participant in this industry as it continues to mature.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content of product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Commodities

6 Questions for Alyssa Tsai of Panony

We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on…

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We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!


 

This week, our 6 Questions go to Alyssa Tsai, founder and CEO of Panony an incubator, investor and adviser for blockchain and Web3 business.

My name is Alyssa Tsai, and Im the founder and CEO of Panony. There are three pillars of businesses under our group umbrella. PANews is one of the earliest crypto media outlets in Greater China and South Korea. It has published over 20,000 articles, with an average of over 5 million page views per month. At Panony, we invest in blockchain projects worldwide and consult Fortune 500 companies for integration and expansion into the industry, spanning the entire spectrum of the blockchain industry from solution providers and exchanges to public chains, protocols and DApps. Im also a limited partner of NGC Ventures, the Animoca Metaverse Fund and the Delta Fund.

Before falling down the rabbit hole of crypto, my prior work experience included Cond Nast, Isentia, Ogilvy and a high-tech law firm. I also actively speak at and moderate global blockchain conferences.

 


1 What is the main hurdle in the way of the mass adoption of blockchain technology?

The industry is still in its infancy. We should be aware of the many challenges, though its already a buzzword in the tech world. The scalability problem is directly related to adoption and blockchain implementation. This question is about whether the system can operate smoothly as demand increases, which inevitably determines mass integration.

Its also important to address that the complexity of blockchain technology limits mass markets ability to appreciate the benefits. The entry barrier is high, so people need to make an effort to understand, not to mention having to keep up with the rapid changes and disruptions. Now they might as well use an adequately good solution for their needs, like regular financial services.

Thats why I feel like Im doing a meaningful job every day. Its early for blockchain and never too early for us. There are so many things to do and so many people we can support through education. The future is now.

 

2 Which countries are doing the most to support blockchain, and which ones will be left behind?

Since Im based out of Greater China, I can share whats happening here from my perspective.

Chinese President Xi Jinping once stated that the country needs to seize the opportunities given by blockchain technology. Following that principle, China has been developing a platform, known as the Blockchain-based Service Network, aimed at making blockchain technology implementation easier for businesses. Many governments are experimenting with a CBDC a central bank digital currency, which has blockchain at its core and China is piloting its digital yuan.

In recent years, the nation has issued statements supporting the development of blockchain tech across several sectors, with an ambition to consolidate the technology into its financial and growth strategies. We also appreciate its intention to build up industrial norms, or tariff incentives to support blockchain-based businesses.

Hong Kong has a robust system that has given birth to Animoca Brands, Crypto.com, BitMEX and many other exceptional companies in the industry. And on a global scale, Switzerland has SEBA Bank, the first regulated crypto bank in the country. In 2016, Zugs local government became the first municipality in the world to accept taxes in Bitcoin; and in 2020, the Swiss authorities allowed citizens and companies based in Zug to pay their taxes in either Bitcoin or Ether.

Other countries such as the United States, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and South Africa also play significant parts in the blockchain ecosystem.

 

3 What would you like to see tokenized? When, if ever, do you expect this to happen?

The history of art in museums, like the Dunhuang Murals. I visited years ago and learned that many experts and scientists are working tirelessly to discover a solution to slow down the oxidation of wall paintings caused by light and air exposure. Tokenizing these could help bring in more money for research and democratize art investment by making art pieces accessible to the general public. It could happen at any time.

In addition, charity work and support for research would be great to see tokenized, especially under the shadow of COVID-19.

 

4 What makes sense to you, and what makes no sense whatsoever?

Gender equality. As a young female entrepreneur who originates from the East and connects to the West, I plead for more investment and education around women. I have met so many powerful women of diverse backgrounds, and they are just as smart and hard-working as men. In reality, challenges remain: There is discriminatory legislation, societal practices persist, and women continue to be underrepresented in leadership at all levels.

Speaking of education, children being taught to learn for the sake of their parents pride does not make sense to me. We should pay attention to personal growth.

 

5 Which alternate movie universe would you most like to live in, and why?

Marvels. It dawned on me at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that we really could have a mighty superhero who could save thousands of lives. Furthermore, the films are about incredible, exciting voyages through time and space. Id love to discover new worlds. For the time being, Ill have to settle on crypto as my wild new world to explore.

 

6 Think of a favorite poem or musical lyric. What is it, and why does it speak to you?

From Bring in the Wine by Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty: When hopes are won, oh, drink your fill in high delight; And never leave your wine cup empty in the moonlight! Heaven has made us talents; were not made in vain. A thousand gold coins spent; more will turn up again. For people who might be interested in the original version

I learned this classical Chinese poem during middle school, and it was eye-opening for me at the time how people living thousands of years ago could live their life to the fullest even when excluded from a position working for the emperor. I guess thats how I learned about resilience and not being afraid of challenges.

Even today, I still remember every single word of this poem that inspires and empowers me its like Im encouraged to be someone like Li Bai, who continues to push forward despite the difficulties and stay truthful. I just keep on doing things I believe in, even when feeling down.

 

A wish for the young, ambitious blockchain community:

Be aggressive and inclusive. Get to know your community, and listen to your community. Lift and add value to one another through collaboration and fair competition.

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Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population…

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Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population changes.

If an area sees a high number of migrants, along with a strong birth rate and low death rate, then its population is bound to increase over time. On the flip side, as Visual Capitalists Nick Routley details below, if more people are leaving the area than coming in, and the region’s birth rate is low, then its population will likely decline.

Which areas in the United States are seeing the most growth, and which places are seeing their populations dwindle?

This map, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a decade of population movement across U.S. counties, painting a detailed picture of U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Counties With The Biggest Population Growth from 2010-2020

To calculate population estimates for each county, the U.S. Census Bureau does the following calculations:

      A county’s base population → plus births → minus deaths → plus migration = new population estimate

From 2010 to 2020, Maricopa County in Arizona saw the highest increase in its population estimate. Over a decade, the county gained 753,898 residents. Below are the counties that saw the biggest increases in population:

Phoenix and surrounding areas grew faster than any other major city in the country. The region’s sunny climate and amenities are popular with retirees, but another draw is housing affordability. Families from more expensive markets—California in particular—are moving to the city in droves. This is a trend that spilled over into the pandemic era as more people moved into remote and hybrid work situations.

Texas counties saw a lot of growth as well, with five of the top 10 gainers located in the state of Texas. A big draw for Texas is its relatively affordable housing market. In 2021, average home prices in the state stood at $172,500$53,310 below the national average.

Counties With The Biggest Population Drops from 2010-2020

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a look at the top 10 counties that saw the biggest declines in their populations over the decade:

The largest drops happened in counties along the Great Lakes, including Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago) and Wayne County (which includes the city of Detroit).

For many of these counties, particularly those in America’s “Rust Belt”, population drops over this period were a continuation of decades-long trends. Wayne County is an extreme example of this trend. From 1970 to 2020, the area lost one-third of its population.

U.S. Population Growth in Percentage Terms (2010-2020)

While the map above is great at showing where the greatest number of Americans migrated, it downplays big changes in counties with smaller populations.

For example, McKenzie County in North Dakota, with a 2020 population of just 15,242, was the fastest-growing U.S. county over the past decade. The county’s 138% increase was driven primarily by the Bakken oil boom in the area. High-growth counties in Texas also grew as new sources of energy were extracted in rural areas.

The nation’s counties are evenly divided between population increase and decline, and clear patterns emerge.

Pandemic Population Changes

More recent population changes reflect longer-term trends. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the counties that saw the strongest population increases were located in high-growth states like Florida and Texas.

Below are the 20 counties that grew the most from 2020 to 2021.

Many of these counties are located next to large cities, reflecting a shift to the suburbs and larger living spaces. However, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and the pandemic housing boom tapers off due to rising interest rates, it remains to be seen whether the suburban shift will continue, or if people begin to migrate back to city centers.

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 21:00

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Airline stocks have been beset by external problems but could now be a good time to invest in a sector many think is in crisis?

It’s fair to say it has been a tough couple of years for the commercial aviation sector and investors in airline stocks. In 2019 the sector enjoyed record…

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It’s fair to say it has been a tough couple of years for the commercial aviation sector and investors in airline stocks. In 2019 the sector enjoyed record passenger numbers and 2020 was expected to be better yet. Low cost airlines were expanding aggressively, as they had been for years, and national carriers, in response, had made strides in cutting costs and introducing other efficiencies.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck, devastating the sector. Over the early part of the pandemic when international travel was severely restricted, airlines operated skeleton schedules. Severely reduced capacity, and schedules regularly interrupted by new lockdowns and shifting government policies bedevilled the sector for the next two years.

Even over the past few months which have seen most pandemic-related travel restrictions drop, a spate of new problems has hampered the sector’s recovery. Staff shortages, the result of a combination of the continuing need for those that become infected with Covid-19 to isolate and a tight labour market, have been a major headache. London-listed easyJet recently cut its capacity forecasts as a result of staffing issues.

And last week over 700 Heathrow airport staff voted to strike over the peak summer period, which promises chaos, and hundreds of cancelled flights, if an agreement can’t be reached over pay in the meanwhile. Staff at three Spanish airports are also calling for industrial action this summer and strikes are a threat elsewhere around Europe’s favourite holiday destinations.

Sky high fuel costs will also put pressure on margins this summer and potentially well into next year and a growing cost of living crisis sparked by inflation levels at 40-year highs will not help demand.

Airline share prices have predictably slumped since the onset of the pandemic. EasyJet’s valuation is down over 50% in the past year and over 75% since summer 2018. Its shares haven’t been worth as little as they currently are since early January 2012.

easyjet plc

Hope on the horizon?

But despite the fact the immediate future still looks tough for airlines, there are a number of reasons why investors might consider dipping into their stocks now or in the months ahead.

The first is that the bulk of the problems that have crushed airline valuations over the past couple of years have been external factors outwith control and unrelated to the underlying quality of companies. They are also all problems that are expected to be temporary and will ease in future. Covid-19 restrictions are, with the notable exception of China, no longer a big issue and hopefully won’t return. And even China recently reduced its mandatory quarantine period for anyone arriving in the country from two weeks to seven days.

That’s still problematic but a sign that an end to the dark cloud of the pandemic may finally be in sight. Most airlines were forced to either take on significant new debt or raise cash through equity issues that diluted existing shareholders, or through mechanisms such as selling and leasing back aircraft.

It will take time for that gearing to be unwound and balance sheets brought back to health. But the sector will eventually recover from the pandemic which should see higher valuations return, providing a buying opportunity at current depressed levels.

Airlines that have come out of the pandemic in the strongest positions will also likely gain market share from weaker rivals, improving their future prospects. British Airways owner IAG, for example, currently has access to more than £10 billion in cash after raising capital to cover losses over the pandemic. EasyJet has access to £4.4 billion. That means both should be well placed to cover any continuing short term losses until passenger numbers return to 2019 levels and push their advantage over less well-capitalised rivals.

Both IAG and easyJet have also seen their passenger capacity improve significantly in recent months. Over the all-important summer quarter to September, the latter expects its passenger capacity to reach 90% of 2019 levels despite the ongoing operational challenges. IAG expects to return to 90% of 2019 capacity over the last quarter of the year.

A full recovery to 2019 levels is possible by next year even if higher costs are likely to mean ticket price increases are inevitable. That does pose a risk for near-term leisure travel demand but there is confidence that remaining pent-up demand from the pandemic period will help soften the impact on discretionary spending on international travel that might have otherwise been more pronounced. Western consumers have also, the pandemic period apart, become so accustomed to taking foreign holidays that some analysts now question if they should still be considered discretionary spending rather than a staple.

Despite the transient and external nature of the problems that have hit easyJet’s valuation, not all analysts are convinced the current share price offers good value even despite its depressed level. They still look relatively expensive given the risks still facing the sector at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of close to x160.

iag

IAG could offer better value, currently trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of just x5.8 for next year. It is also expected to reverse return to a healthy profit by 2023. The company also has exposure to the budget airline market through Vueling and Aer Lingus and while it abandoned its move to take over Air Europa late last year it shows it has ambitions to further expand in this area. And it has plenty of capital available to it to make major acquisitions that could fuel growth when the sector recovers.

IAG’s cheap valuation does reflect the risks it faces over the next couple of years but for investors willing to take on a little more risk the potential upside looks attractive.

A dollar-denominated airline stock play

On the other side of the Atlantic, American airlines also suffered during the pandemic but are now recovering strongly. For British investors, dollar-denominated U.S. stocks also offer the attraction of potential gains in pound sterling terms as a result of a strengthening U.S. dollar. The Fed’s more aggressive raising of interest rates compared to the ECB or Bank of England is boosting the dollar against the pound and euro and it is also benefitting from its safe haven status during a period of economic stress.

One U.S. airline that looks particularly interesting right new is Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low cost carrier. The USA’s domestic travel market has recovered so strongly this year that Southwest expects its Q2 revenues to be 10% higher than those over the same three months in 2019. It’s already profitable again and earnings per share are forecast to come in at $2.67 for 2022 and then leap to $3.84 in 2023. It’s a much more profitable operator than easyHet.

It also, unusually for an American airline, hedges a lot of its oil. That’s expected to see it achieve much better operating margins this year, predicted to reach 15.5% in Q2,  than other airlines being hit by much higher fuel costs. The company isn’t immune to the risk of the impact the inflationary squeeze could have on leisure travel but is seen as one of the most resilient airlines in the sector. It could be a better bet than either of its two London-listed peers.

The post Airline stocks have been beset by external problems but could now be a good time to invest in a sector many think is in crisis? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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