Bitcoin miners selling stock and BTC as returns halve since November

Bitcoin miners are selling off coins from their stockpiles and shares in their companies after the profitability of mining took a dive since November.

With Bitcoin (BTC) currently holding around $43,500, about 33% below the all-time high (ATH) of about $69,000 reached that month, miners are selling at a less-than-opportune time. However, electricity and equipment bills must be paid.

Data from on-chain analytics firm Glassnode showing that Bitcoin miners have become net sellers, after being net hodlers for months.

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Since Nov. 9, the return from mining one BTC has decreased by an average of 50.5% for the two most popular mining devices, the S9 and the S19, according to data by blockchain research firm Arcane Research. This means the return on investment has decreased at a greater rate than the price of BTC.

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A big increase in hashrate has contributed to the lower profitability of mining. Competition among miners increases proportionally with hashrate because it means more devices have been turned on to compete to find the next block.

Cointelegraph reported on Feb. 13 that Bitcoin had reached a new ATH in hashrate. That milestone was achieved by jumping from 188.4 exahashes per second (EH/s) to 284.11 EH/s in a single day. The hashrate is currently at about 232.19 EH/s as of the time of writing according to Ycharts.

Some large mining operations have opted to increase their cash piles or pay their bills by selling stocks rather than crypto. On Feb. 11, a spokesperson for the Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. (MARA) mining operation told Bloomberg, “We started hodling in October 2020, and since then, we have not sold a single satoshi.”

Instead, Marathon filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to sell $750 million in stocks and securities. Seeking Alpha reports that Marathon intends on using a “substantial portion” to purchase hardware and general purposes.

MARA is currently down 0.56% and priced at $28.24 in after hours trading.

Related: Russian ministry wants to legalize Bitcoin mining in specific areas

An analyst for wealth management firm D.A. Davidson told Bloomberg on Feb. 14 that miners have ideological and business reasons for being reluctant to sell Bitcoin:

“Big miners would rather sell equity, because their shareholders want them to hold their Bitcoin and not even think about selling it.”