Bitcoin mining entry triggers nearly 7,000% surge in Thai tech stock

The stock trades at nearly 500 times its trailing 12-month earnings. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - A world-beating share rally by a Thai technology company after it unveiled an expansion into Bitcoin mining has surprised even the firm's chairman.

Jasmine Technology Solution stock has more than tripled since the plan was announced in late July, although the cryptocurrency project has yet to generate significant earnings for the firm. Year to date, the share surge is nearly 7,000 per cent, most among global tech companies with a market value of at least US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"The strong response from investors has exceeded our expectations," chairman Soraj Asavaprapha said in an interview. "There's bullish optimism towards our new direction, even though this is just the beginning."

Jasmine Technology is just one of many Thai firms diversifying into the digital-asset arena. Consumer-appliance maker AJ Advance Technology this month announced its inaugural investment in Bitcoin mining. Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank have also taken stakes in cryptocurrency start-ups.

Enthusiasm for crypto products, especially among young investors, has driven trading in locally licensed exchanges to a series of new record highs - prompting regulators to propose tighter rules.

Jasmine Technology has generated only eight Bitcoins from its 325 mining machines since operations were started a few month ago. Mr Soraj expects next year to be much more active, driven by plans to invest about 3.3 billion baht (S$134 million) in as many as 7,000 new devices. Revenue from the mining business will account for about 80 per cent of the company's total turnover by late 2022, he said.

"We still have little idea about the company's fundamentals, valuations and revenue projections because this Bitcoin mining is very new in Thailand," said Mr Wilasinee Boonmasungsong, an analyst at Globlex Securities in Bangkok. "It's received a good welcome from investors for being the nation's pioneer, but there is some regulatory risk."

The Bank of Thailand said last month that regulators plan to issue more detailed rules governing digital assets to protect the financial system and investors. Turnover at seven locally licensed crypto exchanges surged to 221 billion baht in November, compared with 18 billion baht a year earlier, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) data.

Local rules will not affect Jasmine Technology, said Mr Soraj, as the company can sell digital tokens worldwide and the mining business will be profitable as long as the price of the world's biggest cryptocurrency holds above US$30,000. Bitcoin recently traded at about US$51,000.

Jasmine Technology's net income in the first nine months jumped 436 per cent from a year earlier to 150 million baht as sales from its traditional telecommunications-related businesses increased. The stock, which reached a record high earlier this month, trades at nearly 500 times its trailing 12-month earnings, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The company's largest shareholder with a 33 per cent direct stake is broadband provider Jasmine International, whose chairman resigned in 2019 after the Thai SEC said he used inside information for trading in a subsidiary.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.