Wall Street Unplugged
Episode: 927August 2, 2022

This company will reap the rewards from coming crypto regulation

crypto regulation

Last Wednesday, I (Daniel) explained the fight between the SEC and crypto exchange Coinbase… and how it could spell trouble for plenty of other crypto exchanges. I also highlighted why Overstock (OSTK) will be one of the few winners as the regulatory pressure ramps up… 

Today, I share more details on how tZERO CEO David Goone is transforming the company’s digital asset trading platform into a global juggernaut. 

Earnings season is in full swing. I highlight the latest results from oil giant ExxonMobil (XOM)… and why you should pay particular attention to its refining business. I also share a handful of energy stocks that should be on your radar.

Inside this episode:
  • Crypto exchanges could be in trouble as regulation ramps up [4:10]
  • How David Goone is turning tZERO into a juggernaut [11:40]
  • Will you be able to trade NFTs on tZERO? [16:30]
  • Why you should watch ExxonMobil’s refining margins [22:35]
  • 4 more oil stocks for your watchlist [26:45]

Wall Street Unplugged | 926

This company will reap the rewards from coming crypto regulation

Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged looks beyond the regular headlines heard on mainstream financial media to bring you unscripted interviews and breaking commentary direct from Wall Street right to you on main street.

Daniel Creech: Hello and welcome to the Wall Street Unplugged podcast on this Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022. I am your fill-in host, your guest host behind the mic, your transitory, just like inflation, host, Daniel Creech, analyst here at Curzio Research. I am filling in for the one and only Frank Curzio. Yes, I am the one that gets to work alongside, behind, with, and for the one and only Frank, who is on his way back from vacation, much needed R&R with his family. Don’t worry everybody. He will be back regular programming for Wall Street Unplugged tomorrow, on Wednesday. And it’s funny, August 2nd. If time feels like it’s speeding up, it actually is for the first time. And we say that, and all of us are getting older, obviously. A lot of people say, well, it seems like time goes faster as you get older.

Daniel Creech: Well, this is from the… This references from the… Am I getting this right? TheMindUnleashed.com, and this good title, the Earth just started spinning faster than ever before, and scientists don’t know why. The Earth recently completed a rotation faster than ever before at one spot, five, nine millisecond under 24 hours. And the consequences of how we keep time and experts around the world are alarming, or they have experts alarmed here. I want to have some fun with this because if you didn’t have anything else to worry about, you ought to worry about time speeding up. And here’s a quote from Time and Date website, has warned, quote, “A negative leap second would mean that our clocks skip one second, which could potentially create problems for IT systems.”

Daniel Creech: The long and short of this is, they don’t know why this is happening. They’re alarmed. They’re freaking out. We should freak out. It’s probably related to global warming. And our scheduling, IT systems, our time and dates, our planners are all going to be off. And here we, us individuals, constantly complain about springing forward and falling back an hour. That is nothing. Don’t worry about that. Start worrying about how we’re spinning way too fast. Things are getting out of control. But don’t worry about that. Before all that happens in any of the world, we’re going to make some money shuffling investment dollars into the right sectors as the economy deals with this recession, oil prices, terrible wars over in Russia, rumors of war all over the world. But hey, you got to learn to take it with a smile and an adult beverage, and that’s why I’m here, and that’s why you’re listening.

Daniel Creech: I want to thank everybody last week, from last week’s emails. I was able to fill in on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Wall Street Unplugged podcast for Frank as he left for vacation, and again today. And a lot of you, several of you, wrote in and made comments about inflation, and energy prices, and things like that, and I just really appreciate it. Send all your feedback, good or bad, and comments and questions to daniel@curzioresearch.com. That’s daniel@curzioresearch.com. One subscriber or listener chimed in and said, “Hey, you were talking about the saga and the drama going on between Coinbase and the SEC, and the tit for tat.” And I was explaining how any bad news for Coinbase, any regulatory news from the SEC and other departments that come down for quote, unquote digital securities, if those are removed from certain platforms, I don’t see how that doesn’t help Overstock because of its tZERO platform, the same platform that our security token here at Curzio Research trades on.

Daniel Creech: And I didn’t get to follow up with that on Thursday like I had planned. Had some news happen and I wanted to talk about different things. So my apologies, but thank you so much for writing in and asking me about that. On Decrypt, which is a cryptocurrency website that I like and I check nearly every day, along with a handful of others, this is from today, so it’s timely Binance U.S. delists cryptocurrency the SEC claimed is a security. This goes hand in hand because what’s… And please tune into last week’s, last Wednesday’s, Wall Street Unplugged podcast to get the full recap of it.

Daniel Creech: But just to bring you up to date quickly, I was explaining how, if the SEC deems… There’s a case going on, insider trading and such, where there’s a handful of digital securities, cryptos, that the SEC is saying are securities. And they’re on several platforms, but they’re on Coinbase’s platform, or a handful of them. And if those get deemed and they have to be removed, why does that hurt? Because exchanges make money off fees and off listing, so that’s going to hurt Coinbase.

Daniel Creech: Now, Binance by itself, the BNB token, Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume around the world. Binance U.S. is a division, a segment, a piece under the umbrella of that. It’s not the same… Binance is worldwide, and it’s Binance U.S. because it has to follow certain rules and regulations for here in the U.S. to be able to be welcomed or even offered to U.S. investors. I use it. I have a Binance U.S. app on my phone where I have some Binance tokens or digital securities, whatever. Not as much as I’d like, but I’m adding to them.

Daniel Creech: Anyway. I say all that because Binance U.S. subsidiary announced that it will shutter trading for Flexa’s AMP token after the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission identified the asset as security. Quote, this is from Binance U.S. in a blog post, “We operate in a rapidly involving industry, and our listing and de-listing process are designed to be responsive to market and regulatory developments.” The Exchange said that is delisting AMP, quote, followed up, “out of an abundance of caution.” Taking this step now until more clarity exists around the classification of the token, of the SEC’s comments, and such like that.

Daniel Creech: Now, the commissioner reported that Coinbase, and this is touching back on the saga and the story leading up to this, that nine cryptocurrencies were unregistered securities, and of those nine, about seven of them were on the Coinbase platform. Now, Binance U.S. is saying, “Hey, we see the writing on the wall. We’re going to go ahead and back off this.” No doubt they have greater flexibility because they have the big engine of Binance around the globe behind them and backing them.

Daniel Creech: However, Coinbase doesn’t have that luxury. Coinbase only operates here and is publicly traded. Coinbase is denying the Exchange has listed unregulated security. So, they’re still fighting. In this gladiator, they’re still trying to win over the crowd. They’re in an environment, they’re ready for battle. They got their gear on, they got their swords out or whatever, but the chariots are circling. Obviously, I’m going back to the gladiator movie.

Daniel Creech: Coinbase, for its sense, says, “We are confident that our rigorous diligence process, a process that the SEC has already reviewed…” I touched on that last week. I don’t know how far that’s going to get them, but I like the fact, they need to keep bringing that point up because it is a powerful point. They keep saying, “Hey, you’ve already looked at this, and now you have a problem. You haven’t said anything beforehand. That’s not fair.” Now, we don’t know how fair is going to work out, but if I’m their PR guy, or I’m a consultant or a lawyer charging exorbitant fees to them, I would say, “Hey, this sounds good. The process, the SEC has already reviewed, keep going then.”

Daniel Creech: So, we are confident that our rigorous diligent process, a process that the SCC is already reviewed, keeps securities off our platform. And we look forward to engaging with the SEC on the matter. Now, if I put on my consulting and lawyer hat, I don’t like that last line. We look forward to engaging with the SEC on the matter. That means either arguing and puffing out your chest in a boardroom, or for better or for worse, going to court and having to fight the SEC in court. Good luck with that.

Daniel Creech: If and when more regulatory rules get clarified, become law, get signed into effect, however, you want to put that when this happens and it needs to happen, it’s going to happen because, as Frank talks about a lot, markets hate uncertainty. And the more uncertainty you have, the more volatility you’re going to have. Crypto is already volatile by nature. If and when these regulatory come out, I said last week that it’s going to be positive for Overstock. And what I want you guys to do is to start paying attention to Overstock because they held an investor day, and it was on May 10th, so a few months ago. What’s interesting is Overstock is just the e-commerce online platform, but they still have this ownership and the Medici, or however you say it, portfolio that they had with the tZERO platform. And that’s one of several projects.

Daniel Creech: And as I explained, they put that over and created a limited partnership with Pelion Investments or Pelion Partners, and so they manage it all. And on May 10th, and you can find this on the Overstock.com investor relations, so good cheat is go to a search engine, type in any company name, space, IR, that should take you… The first few links should take you to the investor relations page. Because some of them, believe it or not, and even though they shouldn’t be, are harder than others to find any information on companies.

Daniel Creech: On May 10th, and you can go to the Overstock website and find the replay, but May 10th, they did this investor day, and Pelion hosts a webinar, Zoom type deal. And they have different projects spread out and presented. So, Bitt is a company that they’re invested in. And this is all under the Overstock Medici portfolio umbrella. Bitt, which does central bank digital securities, and helps with those around the world, that is going to happen. I’ll save my comments on that. They’re not good. I think that, to put it lightly, a central bank digital currency is just a bad of an idea as printing money endlessly and on paper. They’re just going to do it more on keyboard. I’ll touch more on that in the future.

Daniel Creech: But from this standpoint, this company could take off, make a lot of money for tZERO and everybody else. Message pay, which is what it sounds like, is transferring payments, getting involved in networks. Again, that’s a global business. Chainstone Labs is run by a Bruce Fenton, interesting character if you follow him on Twitter or across the board. Huge into crypto, has been for a while. Very smart guy. Believe he’s still running for… I think his Twitter handle has… Is he running for Senate or something else in New Hampshire? But anyway, best of luck to him on that. They go through a lot of the different investments, and following, and help registering, everything from… They like to say they’re at the intersection of where securities and Bitcoin meet, which is just exciting.

Daniel Creech: And then, of course, you have the flagship asset, the big dog in the room, the tZERO platform. And tZERO is… It’s no doubt their biggest flagship asset because it’s the exchange to where you have so much flexibility and optionality. And what they did on… Like I said, May 10th was when they had this investor day. Just a couple months prior to that, they made a new appointment. And this is just from the Business Wire, but tZERO, a leader in blockchain, innovation, and liquidity for digital assets, announced it … This is back in February, announced today it will appoint David Goone, who currently is the Chief Strategy Officer of International, or Intercontinental Exchange, which is the ticker ICE, I-C-E, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, to become tZEROs new Chief Executive Officer.

Daniel Creech: Why is that a big deal? Well, because David Goone has been with ICE as it grew from smaller than what tZERO is right now, so let’s just call it basically a startup company or a startup company with one product. And it has grown to over, even with the pullback in stocks with the overall market, it’s still a 50 plus billion dollar market cap. And David Goone presents, and he’s only a couple months into his role at this time, so he’s very general and vague, but it’s a good… He said a couple of things that really stood out to me, which led to me… which is why I’m thinking about this, and other… a lot of great people on Twitter and investment research have done good things on Overstock and stuff like that. So, no doubt. It’s just my own… I didn’t come to this just on my own, just looking around.

Daniel Creech: But he said a few things that stood out to me, which led to last week’s story about Coinbase and what pain for them and negative news for them is good for Overstock. Because he was talking about… David Goone says, “Hey, I think that a lot of these digital securities that are being traded on exchanges are in fact securities. They trade like securities. People think of them as securities, et cetera.” He was talking about how regulation will come down at some point. And to touch on this again, remember what we’re dealing with and who we’re dealing with, meaning regulations, and processes, or laws, and who we’re dealing with, the SEC, the commodities oversights, the government in general, these things take time.

Daniel Creech: And what’s really wild to me and interesting is if you go to Overstock website and you get to the investor relation page and watch that May 10th presentation, it’s exciting stuff. There’s some really cool things that are unfolding and playing out. And there’s a lot of projects like tZERO with David Goone about how the odds are in their favor for success. However, you look at present today, the stock has gotten hammered. Why? Because these things take time. Dreams don’t come true overnight. They’re a process. There are going to be ups and downs. And to their credit, Pelion, when the head guy, the general partner or the investment manager of Pelion, is introducing the webinar and presentations for the different groups, he’s honest about that and says, “Listen, these are going to take years to build out. Not all of them are going to win. All the projects we have are not going to continue to get funded depending on results.” That’s all positive and stuff you want to hear. Still painful. When something you want to work out doesn’t, you don’t make a lot of money.

Daniel Creech: But my point is that this was a good investor day. There’s a lot of fun knowledge. I’ll touch on just a couple more things he said. But yet the stock continued to drift lower, and that’s, as an investor, what you want to pay attention to. And I don’t care if you’re talking about energy, or crypto, or whatever, when you’re listening to management teams, as long as they’re not just lying through their teeth, when they’re telling you about the situation and environments they’re in, and what that looks like going forward, if that thesis doesn’t change and you know those projects are still getting hammered out, and still being built on, and still getting still making progress going forward, yet the price has changed, that’s the time you want to buy. So, definitely keep Overstock on a watch list, on your shopping list, on your radar, however you want to say that.

Daniel Creech: During David Goone’s presentation, he talked about how they have a global opportunity. And you got to remember this guy works for one of the biggest, most connected institution… or excuse me, companies on Wall Street, or he did. And he was talking about, “Hey, when I was with ICE, it was smaller than tZERO is, or about the same size now, and we grew that.” And he was talking about how fun it was to grow that, and to build businesses, and that’s his passion, all that kind of stuff. That’s great for investors because you want a motivated CEO. You want somebody to go build something else. You want somebody that wants to leave their name or stamp on them. So, that’s good.

Daniel Creech: The biggest thing that stood out to me is what he said outside of what he believes is a lot of securities, digital securities, are trading or in fact securities. He also said about NFTs, non-fungible tokens, that is probably the second biggest word next to… Non fungible tokens are probably number two to the metaverse right now. What is the metaverse? Who’s going to be in the metaverse? How is it? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m all excited about metaverse. I’m not dogging it. I’m simply saying those are the key buzzwords right now.

Daniel Creech: David Goone mentioned that NFTs could be securities, as well. And that is a powerful statement because in addition to digital currencies, think cryptocurrencies, being deemed as securities, if a portion or certain NFTs are, and they need to go somewhere to trade, tZERO is already licensed with FINRA, and the SEC, and who they need to be on certain situations. And David Goone goes into that on his presentation. And they’re already available or ready to start trading these securities. Now, I’m not saying that OpenSea or any other of your big non-fungible token or NFT platforms are in trouble. I’m not saying that all. I haven’t looked to see what their licenses are. I’m not aware of that.

Daniel Creech: My point is that when you have a guy like David Goone make a career decision to go from a huge conglomerate corporation that he helped build to a smaller one to try to do it all over again because he sees a huge opportunity there, and then you pile onto that cryptos might get deemed… Or you know regulation is coming down the pike, odds are you’re going to have a lot of cryptocurrencies that are deemed as securities. Therefore, they have to go somewhere else to trade. And if this NFT thing has… I haven’t heard anybody else really talking about that, and being securities, and where they go. That’s going to be interesting to follow, and that’s why I think Overstock is set up in a great risk-reward, especially from current prices. But again, I’m not a know it all, and I’ve gotten burned on Overstock a couple times. I wish I just would’ve bought it and forgot about it, but that’s easier said than done.

Daniel Creech: But that’s why I wanted to talk to you last week about that. And I wanted to go over… I ran out of time, so I didn’t have time to go over a lot of the investor day from Medici and the presentation from David Goone. But if you have time, just go to Overstock’s investment relation… Investor relations, excuse me, webpage and watch that because it is insightful, and maybe start scaling in to Overstock.

Daniel Creech: Topic number two, beat that one to death topic. Number two, we’re getting back to energy because a couple of the emails and feedback I received, one gentleman said, “Hey, what are these oil and gas companies… Give me a handful, or which ones are you talking about specifically,” I’ll get to that. And another question mentioned our government here is releasing oil from the strategic reserves, and that was… The details aren’t really that important. Obviously, the government keeps oil for an oh crap, shit hit the fan, family show. And we’re releasing those to increase supply. Increase the supply, if the demand doesn’t continue to rise, you’re going to have lower prices. Simple as that.

Daniel Creech: And you could argue that it’s worked because the price of oil has come down. Forget why, but that is one of the data points that you want to point to and say, “Hey, however, you got to fill those reserves back up for the next rainy day. So, what happens to oil then?” In a perfect world, I don’t know. But if I shake the magic eight ball here, in a perfect world, the government wants the price of oil to crash, and then it can boast and say, “Look, we did this great. We released these barrels of oil. It helped drive the price down. Now we’re going to buy it back and stockpile at lower prices. And all is good.”

Daniel Creech: The issue with that is, if oil doesn’t drop, then you have a government that’s going to buy, and who knows exactly what price they filled these up at, or got to the certain levels they were at. But if oil remains elevated above $70 a barrel where it was give or take a year, and less than that going back, then it’s a terrible decision because in the short term, you could point to it and say that it may have helped in some price relief, however, over the long-term, if demand doesn’t absolutely fall off a cliff and prices stay elevated, you’re buying back oil at a higher price. And then by doing that, and by buying, that you’re adding to demand, which, unless supply really increases, which policies don’t want to happen, government policies around the world, including ours, then you have increased demand without an increase in supply, which means you’re going to have a higher price.

Daniel Creech: This shouldn’t shock any regular listeners. And if you’re new to this program, listen. The governments are not the best businessmen, obviously. They’re pretty silly, in fact, and they’re very rarely are the smartest people in the room. That’s my take on the strategic reserves thing. Now, I want to talk about one more thing with the oil prices, because ExxonMobil reported earnings on July 29th. And that’s a DSC pick. It’s done well for us in the Dollar Stock Club. And the week before that, the Wall Street Journal ran a good article about how refiners and oil refinery margins were at all-time highs, and because of the tight supply and all that kind of stuff. And you remember Joe Biden, President Joe Biden, going on TV and Twitter and everything else, and he’s saying oil prices need to come down. So, they’re going to do the strategic reserve release. Then he said gas stations need to lower the price of oil, and oil refiners need to pick up the capacity, meaning refine more oil, stop gouging the U.S. consumer and typical talking points for that.

Daniel Creech: The Wall Street Journal was a week before this when they reported earnings. And they were highlighting that, hey, the refineries’ margins are at record high, they’re way higher than the historical norms. And they pointed to you don’t have a lot of refining capacity. No new refining capacity has been built here in the U.S. I don’t believe one has been built in well over 20 years. I talked about the Chevron CEO comments saying there’s never going to be another refinery built in the U.S. because of politics and such of that nature. And I’m not getting into politics. I’m simply relaying the message. So, don’t shoot the messenger here if you’re green and you’re all upset about this. If you like paying $5 a gallon, great. And if you want to be convinced that $4 is better than five, fantastic, and you’re happy with that. I’m not, I wanted to go back to $2 or something.

Daniel Creech: I bring all that up because Exxon Mobil reported wonderful earnings, smashed them, hit them out of the park, as you can imagine. There’s a little bit of this transcript from the Q&A that I want to talk about. So, Darren Woods is CEO and chairman of the board for Exxon Mobil. And he took a question about refining outlook. And the reason I’m bringing this up is, just like I said with Overstock, when you have a situation with oil and gas companies right now, and the CEOs are telling you that this year or next year has strong momentum, and the price pulls back, let’s say from now to the next couple of months, and oil prices have pulled back recently, as an investor, if the price changes and the thesis doesn’t change, that’s when you want to look at either scaling in, adding to, or starting a position. And that’s what I hope you take away from this today.

Daniel Creech: So the question is, in regards to, hey, can you give us a little bit more meat about your refining outlook? And I know it’s probably a volatile environment, yada, yada, yada, he says there’s issues over in Asia with exports and refining, in China and all that. And Europe, of course, is in an energy mess. So, Darren Woods says this, “Hey, sure. I’m happy to do that. You say it’s a volatile time.” He says, “I think the thing that’s really changed in the refining landscape, which has impacted …” And he says we’re seeing impact across a lot of industries in the parts of business as the pandemic.

Daniel Creech: “You go back,” he says, “since 2020, we’ve mentioned in our prepared presentation,” he says, “since the coronavirus three million barrels a day of refining capacity has come out of the circuit since the pandemic, meaning three million less barrels a day is being refined today versus pre coronavirus. Just think simple supply and demand.” Now, I’m skipping ahead here. He says, “So, we’ve got this gap. Demand recovers, and we don’t have the capacity to meet that, which has led to a record high refining margins. So, I think the solution here is, with time, additional capacity to come on. Well, remember these aren’t just flipping light switches to increase refinery productions.” He says, “But I would expect much lower than what we’ve experienced here in the second quarter, going forward.” He’s talking about margins.

Daniel Creech: But he finishes with this, and this is what I want to hammer home. “And so, I think this will be a few year price environment. And then, we’ll get back to what I think is more typical refining industry structure.” Now, they’re talking about… Exxon Mobil, when I say they. He says, “Remember, threw million barrels a day of refining capacity has come offline since the coronavirus.” He says he doesn’t see a whole lot of expansion in the U.S. Now over the next two years, probably a million barrels a day of capacity. That includes, that million barrels includes 250,000 barrels increase a day coming from Exxon site in the Gulf. That’s not going to start until the first quarter of 2023. So, in the next two years, you have a million barrels coming on a day, 250 of that is from one location from Exxon Mobil. However, that’s still not even replacing the three million that’s already lost. You get my drift there? Just simple supply and demand.

Daniel Creech: Now, in order for this not to be a windfall, or at least a new normal of much higher refining margins for oil companies, you need demand to fall off a cliff. But Mr. Woods quotes and says, hey, we’re basically back at pre coronavirus levels, basically back to 2019 demand. And he says you don’t need any better demand to keep a tight market, tight market meaning high margins, refinery capacity, and tight supply and demand. That’s a big deal. You have one of the greatest, most successful companies in the history, and management is telling you they expect strong momentum for the next couple of years because capacity’s just not going to get replaced on just one business, and that’s the refining business, which I don’t have to point out off the top of a mountain is an important business because it turns oil into fuel. Okay? We need it, people.

Daniel Creech: Outside Exxon Mobil, so just to give you a couple to keep paying attention to, I’m still a fan of Exxon Mobil. I like Devon Energy, DVN. They just reported earnings recently. I thought that was good enough. They bumped their dividend a little bit. Could have been a little bit more, in my opinion, because I’m greedy. I like Viper Energy, VNOM. I know we got closed out of that in Dollar Stock Club. So you can write me an email, daniel@curzioresearch.com, and blame me if you lost on that, but it is coming back. So it was a bad trade, but it was a good investment. And I think you can look at some other refineries like Valero and Marathon Petroleum just reported they beat on earnings and revenue. Today, I’ll have to go through the conference called transcript and see about what they say about the outlook, see if it matches Mr. Woods from Exxon Mobil.

Daniel Creech: But yes, I’m still bullish on that over the long term. Remember, I’m not talking in terms of trading. I’m talking about having exposure to a business, to go through an economic cycle, and compound your money at solid returns. And as the world spends faster and faster out of control, you need to make as much money before everything ends anyway. A little lighthearted tongue in cheek to end there.

Daniel Creech: All right, everybody, we’re going to wrap it up today. Thank you so much. Again, questions, comments, feedback, good or bad, just don’t ignore me, daniel@curzioresearch.com. That’s daniel@curzioresearch.com. And we can’t wait for Frank to be back in the saddle again, just like Aerosmith screams, tomorrow. Cheers.

Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged is produced by Curzio Research, one of the most respected financial media companies in the industry. The information presented on Wall Street Unplugged is the opinion of its host and guests. You should not base your investment decision solely on this broadcast. Remember, it’s your money and your responsibility.

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Daniel Creech is a Curzio Research analyst with over a decade of experience. He writes on macro trends, large- and small-cap stocks, and digital securities. He’s a regular contributor to Wall Street Unplugged, Curzio Crypto, Curzio Research Advisory, and The Dollar Stock Club.

Editor’s note:

It’s only a matter of time before the crypto market rebounds—with a vengeance.

So Frank is offering you a FREE year of Crypto Intelligence… plus a FREE plot of land in the TCG World metaverse that could soon explode in value.

But hurry—this offer is only available for a limited time.

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