Bitcoin mining update: Stocks cool off, miners send BTC to exchanges to prep for halving

Bitcoin miners make moves in preparation for the BTC block reward halving which is scheduled for April 2024.

In July, Bitcoin (BTC) mining stocks continued their positive run in 2023 with the top ten stocks by market cap gaining 23.10% over the month on average, with an year-to-date return of 277.34%.

In comparison, BTC price has lost 3.59% in July as it failed to build support above $30,000 for the sixth week since June 2023. Despite a difficult July, BTC price is still up 78.88% in 2023.

Bitcoin mining stocks performance.

The decline in Bitcoin’s price reduced the profitability of miners. To make conditions more challenging for miners, the mining difficulty reached a new all-time high, reducing miner profitability.

Historical trends show that the network’s hashrate could continue to rise leading up to the halving on April 26, 2024 as miners increase their hash power by installing new efficient machines.

Besides adding to their processing power, miners are also adopting other hedging techniques like selling Bitcoin futures to lock in current prices.

As the network’s hashrate is expected to increase through the year as miners reinvest in new machines and adopt other hedging techniques, miner profitability and stock valuations will continue to face pressure in the lead-up to the event.

Bitcoin hashrate projected to grow until halving

While BTC price has increased by around 80% year-to-date, the mining difficulty also increased by 51%, offsetting the rise in profitability due to price surge.

In mid-July, Bitcoin’s difficulty set a new all-time high of 53.91 trillion units. The increase in difficulty triggered a capitulation event in the sector, which was already reeling under pressure at the start of the month.

BTC/USD price chart with hash ribbon indicator. Source: TradingView

Bitcoin’s Hashprice index, a metric used to quantify the average daily miner earnings from 1 TH/s across the industry, dropped from $78.30 per TH/s on July 1 to $72 per TH/s by the end of July, per Hashrate Index data.

Hashprice index chart. Source: Hashrate Index

The network’s hashrate deflated in the second half of July, resulting in a 2% decline in its difficulty in the adjustment on July 26.

The adjustment will likely ease the pressure on miners, but only slightly. The total hashrate is still ranging above last month’s lows after rising consistently since the start of 2023.

Moreover, historical trends suggest that miners will likely continue adding to their fleet, which could cramp profitability further.

Bitcoin daily hashrate. Source: Glassnode

Before the previous halving Bitcoin’s hashrate grew consistently for a year, peaking only a month before the halving in May 2020. The current rise in the network’s hashrate is showing a similar trend.

Miners are preparing for the halving

Besides increasing hashpower, the miners are adopting various strategies to prepare for the event.

These strategies involve improving the cash flow and profits of their operations by managing the existing and newly mined BTC before the halving.

In the previous cycle, Bitcoin miners had started accumulating BTC a year before the event and began unloading only after the rewards were slashed. However, with less than 9 months or three quarters left for the next halving, the trend hasn’t repeated yet. Miners were seen sending large amounts of BTC to exchanges.

The one-hop supply of miners, which represents the coins received from mining pools, dipped toward a 2023 low in July. 

Bitcoin one-hop supply. Source: Coin Metrics

Data from Bitfinex also shows that miner inflow to exchanges is part of a de-risking strategy to hedge their BTC on derivatives exchanges. For instance, selling BTC one-year futures allows miners to lock in a selling price of $30,000 for next year.

Some miners could also be selling to improve their cash balances before the halving.

According to data from The MinerMag, public miners have liquidated nearly all of their newly mined Bitcoin in the last two months.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin mining stocks have continued their impressive positive rally from the start of the year and could be enroute to another positive monthly closing in July.

Related: Buying Bitcoin is preferable to BTC mining in most circumstances — Analysis

Notably, miner stocks were fueled by reports of a $500 million investment by the U.S.-based investment fund Vanguard, a $7.2 trillion asset management firm. The fund added to their allocations of RIOT and MARA in certain indices.

The potential for further upside could be triggered by an ongoing short-squeeze as Marathon Digital Holdings, Riot Platforms and Cipher Mining are heavily shorted, with 20-25% of their float shares, according to Fintel data.

Nevertheless, the mining stocks showed first sign of weakness in the second half of July, as most mining stocks recorded two negative weekly closings.

Given that the competition in the Bitcoin mining industry is expected to increase throughout the year, miners’ profitability and stock valuations may remain under stress leading up to halving.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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