(Bloomberg) — If any ETF is living up to its ticker in 2023, it’s WGMI.
The tiny Valkyrie Bitcoin Miners ETF — whose ticker is a popular acronym standing for “We’re Gonna Make It” — is so far the year’s best-performing fund after surging more than 100% in January. That run puts it roughly 25 percentage points ahead of the next-best advancer among US equity funds and makes WGMI a standout after a harrowing 2022 where it lost more than 80%.
The fund counts mining companies like Digihost Technology Inc., Bitfarms Ltd, Marathon Digital Holdings Inc., Hive Blockchain Technologies Ltd and Riot Platforms Inc. among its top holdings, all of which have shot to the moon since the start of the year.
“Bitcoin is up 40% year to date, so that is boosting the demand for the underlying stocks,” said Mohit Bajaj, director of ETFs at WallachBeth Capital. Plus, many of those stocks are thinly-traded, “so when there is excess buying, it will cause some higher price deviations.”
It’s a promising start for ETFs tracking companies linked to digital assets after a brutal 2022, when such funds were among the year’s biggest losers. Bitcoin, the largest digital currency by market value, has raced ahead this year — after its second-worst annual performance on record in 2022 when it fell 64%. On Friday, the coin traded little changed at about $23,000, far below its 2021 highs near $69,000.
A resurgence in optimism — tinged with FOMO sentimentality — has brought a bunch of crypto holdings higher. Other crypto-related funds including the VanEck Digital Assets Mining ETF (DAM), the VanEck Digital Transformation ETF (DAPP), the Global X Blockchain ETF (BKCH) and the Bitwise Crypto Industry Innovators ETF (BITQ) have all also posted rallies north of 60%.
Still, plenty of those who watched crypto and crypto-adjacent assets surge during the early pandemic years — and then crash in 2022 — are wary that any monster moves could be sustained. Crypto miners last year tanked along with just about everything else in crypto.
Some investors were into the “picks and shovels” types of companies within the space, including miners, as a way to get access to crypto, said Kara Murphy, chief investment officer at Kestra Investment Management. Though it allowed them to be part of the infrastructure, what happened to the miners “is a great example where that play didn’t work either.”
“When you have an asset that’s falling dramatically and being called into question, everybody gets pulled down along with it,” Murphy said in an interview. “Bitcoin’s been rallying, so it’s not completely dead and forgotten, but the miners have been impacted by the asset decline and questioning about the infrastructure.”
The slew of bad news has been relentless for the industry —from companies filing for bankruptcies to those laying off large chunks of their staff. Still, crypto faithfuls maintain belief in the coin even as the industry grapples with one of its darkest stretches yet amid the fallout from the FTX implosion.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.