Buy these stocks to ride the bitcoin fever

One of Wall Street’s top strategists and a longtime bitcoin fan has unveiled his top stock ideas to clients as a way to play the cryptocurrency craze.

Fundstrat’s Tom Lee was the first major strategist to issue an official price target on bitcoin and now becomes the first to give clients direct bitcoin equity plays.

Many investment mandates require managers to steer clear of volatile assets and stick to traditional equity markets; despite bitcoin’s stellar success over recent weeks, the cryptocurrency may be too volatile for standard investment rules.

In addition to recommending stocks, Lee noted his $25,000 year-end target for the price of one bitcoin.

“We believe investors should have exposure to blockchain, particularly given bitcoin has essentially zero correlation to equities, bonds and commodities — hence, as a portfolio strategy, bitcoin is a good diversification tool,” wrote Lee in a note Friday.

The digital asset took Wall Street by storm Thursday, jumping from $13,000 to highs above $19,000 in roughly one day. Bitcoin has since cooled off a bit, now trading just under $16,000.

The first group of bitcoin plays Lee highlighted includes the CME Group, Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) and Goldman Sachs.

Cboe, the largest U.S. options exchange, announced in August its plans to launch its own bitcoin derivatives trading products, offering cash-settled bitcoin futures to both institutional and retail investors. They begin trading Sunday evening. Bitcoin fans argue that the launch of such products by Cboe and others help legitimize the trade and may help stabilize the otherwise volatile token.

For its part, CME followed suit in October with Chairman Terry Duffy saying, “Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract.” Fundstrat’s Lee included Goldman in the group because he expects the bank “to be the first investment bank to be involved in bitcoin trading.”

Though options exchanges and investment banks may see upside thanks to the bitcoin mania, technology and chip companies are also set to climb, added Lee. Chipmakers like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices that produce graphics processing units (GPUs) necessary for bitcoin “mining” should perform well if bitcoin presses upward.

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