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What Is Market Capitalization? Why Is It Important in Crypto?

12 mins
Updated by Artyom G.
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Market capitalization provides a clear insight into a company’s value. This valuation is pivotal in enabling stakeholders and other individuals to make informed investment choices. Additionally, it offers a comprehensive view essential for acquisition evaluations and strategic budgeting and helps investors forecast a company’s future earnings.

In this article, we dissect the concept of market capitalization, its calculation, and its significance in the crypto landscape.

What is market capitalization?

market cap

Market capitalization, often referred to as market cap, represents the collective market worth of a publicly traded corporation’s shares. It exclusively encapsulates a company’s value in the market, disregarding its financial obligations or indebtedness.

To calculate the market cap of a particular company, you can multiply the number of outstanding shares by the price of one share. This resulting figure establishes the market cap size, ranging from nano-cap to mega-cap, usually mirroring the company’s associated investment risk.

Market capitalization formula:

The market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the number of outstanding shares by the share price.

Let’s use an example to illustrate the calculation: Say we want to calculate the market capitalization of Tom Corp on May 3, 2017.

  • Number of shares issued by Tom Corp = 20 million shares
  • Current market price of Tom Corp’s stock = $20 per share

To determine Tom Corp’s market capitalization, multiply the number of shares (20 million) by the stock price ($20 per share), which results in a market cap of $400 million.

Interpreting market capitalization

Market capitalization is often used to classify companies into different categories based on their market value. These categories include:

  • Small cap: Market capitalization ranging from $300 million to $2 billion places a company in the small-cap category. Investing in small-cap companies is often regarded as a high-risk endeavor, but it can yield higher returns that correlate with the company’s gradual growth over time.
  • Mid-cap (medium cap): Market capitalization between $2 billion and $10 billion. Investing in mid-caps is considered less risky when compared to smaller-cap enterprises. Mid-cap companies typically represent fast-growing entities that have transcended their small-cap origins.
  • Large-cap: Market capitalization exceeding $10 billion. Investing in large-cap companies offers a level of stability and reliability that is reassuring for investors.
  • Mega-cap: Market capitalization of more than $100 billion. Mega-cap companies generally offer low returns but considerable security on investments. Examples of these companies include Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • Micro-cap: Market capitalization between $50 million and $300 million. Often referred to as penny stocks, micro-cap companies are relatively young and offer an equal potential for growth and decline.
  • Nano-cap: Market capitalization below $50 million. Nano-cap companies are the riskiest to invest in. They tend to be newer or smaller firms, often in the early stages of their business lifecycle. Due to their size, they might not have established track records or robust financials.

Investor sentiment

Market capitalization mirrors investor sentiment: a low market cap often signals investor doubts about the company’s prospects, whereas a high cap indicates optimism.

Billionaire Fundamental Analysis

“You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you’re not ready, you won’t do well in the markets.”

Peter Lynch, American investor: Investopaper

Share price and market capitalization are influenced by expectations for a company’s future growth. High-growth projections can lead to a higher market cap, while low-growth or declining projections may result in a lower market cap.

Market capitalization matters when companies want to buy other companies. Bigger companies often buy smaller ones, especially micro and small caps, helping the larger entity to grow without too much risk.

Market cap calculation for stocks

Similar to the earlier example, we determine the market cap for stocks by multiplying the number of shares by the share unit. To express mathematically, Market Cap (MC) = number of shares outstanding x share price. 

However, unlike market cap, float-adjusted market cap (sometimes called free-float market cap) is used for several widely-known stock indexes like the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. These stocks use float-adjusted market cap, as well as major index funds and exchange-traded funds. We calculate the float-adjusted market cap using only shares available to the general public and exclude locked-in shares, such as those held by institutions and government agencies.

For example:

Let’s consider a company, which we’ll refer to as “Company Ade.” This company boasts 50 million publicly tradable shares, constituting its float, alongside an additional 30 million restricted shares, predominantly held by the firm’s executive officers. In the current assessment, we value the stock at $45 per share.

In this case, you’re given the float (shares available for trading) and restricted shares. To determine the market cap, we’ll calculate the shares outstanding by adding the float and restricted shares:

  • Float: 50 million shares (which is 50  10^6)
  • Restricted shares: 30 million shares (which is 30 10^6)
  • Number of shares outstanding = Float + restricted shares
  • Number of shares outstanding = 50,000,000 + 30,000,000
  • Number of shares outstanding = 80,000,000 (or 80  10^6)
  • Share price: $45 per share

Note: The number of shares outstanding is the sum of float and restricted shares.

Using the formula:

  • MC = 80,000,000 shares at $45 per share
  • MC = $3,600,000,000

You can simplify this to $3.6 billion. So, the market capitalization of Company Ade is $3.6 billion.

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Market cap calculation for cryptocurrencies

mantle network cover

Similarly, you can determine the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies. This involves multiplying the price of a crypto asset by its circulating supply. To illustrate this in practice, consider ethereum, a mid-cap cryptocurrency with a circulating supply of 120,238,637 ETH and a current price of $1,665.87

Market cap = market price × circulating supply

120,238,637 X ETH $1,665.87 = $200,317,694,499.19 is the market cap of ethereum.

Note: This calculation can be applied and calculated in other fiat currencies. 

For those seeking to ascertain the market capitalization of widely recognized cryptocurrencies, valuable resources such as our BeInCrypto price tracker can be utilized. The platform provides comprehensive information regarding established coins and tokens. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that emerging cryptocurrencies, tokens, and initial coin offerings (ICOs) may not be readily available on many data websites.

Market capitalization vs. other metrics

In addition to market capitalization, numerous other metrics provide crypto investors with effective frameworks for conducting fundamental analyses of cryptocurrencies. Let’s juxtapose these metrics alongside market capitalization for a comprehensive assessment.

Market cap vs. revenue and assets

Market capitalization, assets, and revenue are crucial metrics for evaluating a company’s value. However, while market capitalization offers a market perception, assets, and revenues provide a clearer insight into the company’s financial health.

Market capitalization reflects the average value of all assets within a certain company. Assets, on the other hand, encompass tangible and intangible possessions owned by a company that either have intrinsic worth or have the potential to generate value.

Furthermore, market capitalization derives its value from the collective worth of a company’s shares, determined by current asset prices. In contrast, revenue quantifies the financial gains resulting from sales and operational activities. It’s worth noting that a company may possess a substantial market capitalization while concurrently reporting relatively modest revenue figures.

Market cap vs. trading volume

Anyone looking to learn how to trade cryptocurrency should be aware of both market capitalization and trading volume — two essential metrics in the market that provide insights into an asset’s worth and overall market dynamics.

If we multiply an asset’s current price by the amount available, we get a number that shows its total value — market capitalization. In contrast, trading volume quantifies investor participation, indicating their enthusiasm for either acquiring or disposing of the asset. Notably, heightened trading activity correlates with increased volume.

Market capitalization and trading volume are interconnected, jointly influencing a cryptocurrency’s liquidity and volatility. The volume-to-market-cap ratio is a key indicator of liquidity, with a high ratio signifying a liquid coin and, consequently, a more stable market. Conversely, a low ratio suggests reduced liquidity, often associated with a less stable market environment.

The significance of market capitalization

Market capitalization represents the total dollar value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock, providing a snapshot of a company’s size and its relative worth in the market. Here are some other vital details about market cap:

  1. Company size and stability: Market cap provides investors with a quick way to gauge a company’s size. Generally, larger market cap companies are more stable and established. They have likely weathered market challenges and are often seen as safer investments.
  2. Risk and growth potential: Smaller companies with smaller market caps are often viewed as having more growth potential. However, they also carry higher risks, as they may not have a proven track record or established market presence. Investors can choose companies with different market caps to balance their risk and return preferences.
  3. Dividends: Larger companies with substantial market caps often have the resources to pay dividends regularly. Investors seeking income from their investments might prefer companies with larger market caps for their consistent dividend payments.
  4. Diversification: Investors can diversify their portfolios by investing in companies with various market capitalizations. This approach allows for a mix of stability and growth potential, reducing overall risk.

Market capitalization in the crypto space

Market caps cryptocurrencies
Market caps of cryptocurrencies: Statista

The collective worth of cryptocurrencies has experienced fluctuations in the wake of the lockdown. The market plummeted to as low as $200 billion, only to rebound in a bullish surge to amass over $3 trillion. Cryptocurrency values have exhibited a rollercoaster pattern, with instances of daily losses exceeding $300 billion, interspersed with remarkable growth, doubling in size within a matter of weeks.

Today, the global cryptocurrency market is worth $1.11 trillion. Currently, bitcoin’s market value is $545 billion, making up 47.22% of the whole crypto market. On the other hand, stablecoins are valued at $123 billion and account for 10.66% of the total cryptocurrency market.

How does the market capitalization of a crypto change over time?

The market capitalization of an asset can change over time due to fluctuations in the number of outstanding shares or tokens. This is especially common in cryptocurrencies with an unfixed supply.

In cases where new tokens or coins are frequently issued, a different formula is used to estimate potential market capitalization, known as diluted market cap:

  • Diluted market cap = diluted shares outstanding × current market price per share

For example, consider bitcoin, trading at $27,300 per coin in early October 2023, with 19.1 million in circulation and a total possible supply of 21 million:

Diluted market cap = $27,300 x 21 million = $573.3 billion

Analysts use diluted market cap to anticipate price changes. If all 21 million BTC were in circulation, their price would need to drop to maintain a market cap of $521.13 billion. This affects assets with large unissued tokens and exposes them to greater risks of price drops.

What factors that affect the market capitalization of crypto?

Cryptocurrency market capitalization reflects its overall dollar value based on outstanding coins. However, it’s more than just a product of price and supply. Factors like supply-demand dynamics, industry trends, financial performance, effective management, and inherent token supply mechanisms collectively influence this valuation. Understanding these elements offers a clearer picture of cryptocurrency market dynamics. Here are some examples of those elements that affect market cap in crypto:

  1. Industry trends: The performance of the broader industry or sector to which a cryptocurrency belongs can exert a profound impact on its market capitalization. In times of robust industry growth, optimism about a company’s future prospects may lead investors to pay a premium for its tokens.
  2. Market conditions: The overall condition of the broader financial markets plays a crucial role in shaping crypto market capitalization. During a bullish market phase, investors may exhibit a willingness to acquire cryptocurrencies at higher valuations, whereas during a bear market, caution prevails, and lower prices are demanded.
  3. Token supply: The supply of tokens is a pivotal factor influencing the price of a cryptocurrency. In cases where the token supply is limited, the price tends to rise.
  4. The node count serves as a metric that reflects the quantity of actively engaged wallets within a given network. A heightened node count signifies a thriving and resilient community, while a diminished node count conversely conveys a lack thereof.

Implications of crypto market capitalization

Market capitalization in the cryptocurrency market holds significant implications for investors. Here are some key considerations to include:

  1. Volatility: Investment risk is closely tied to price fluctuations. Large-cap cryptocurrencies exhibit lower volatility, offering more stability during turbulent market conditions. Mid-cap coins are more volatile, and small-cap tokens can swing significantly, increasing risk.
  2. Liquidity: Determines how easily you can buy or sell assets without affecting their prices. Large-cap cryptocurrencies typically have higher liquidity due to strong demand, making transactions smoother. Mid-cap and small-cap tokens, in contrast, exhibit lower liquidity, which can complicate trading.
  3. Growth potential: Large-cap crypto coins have lower growth potential than mid- and small-cap counterparts. They are a stable choice for long-term investors with a low-risk tolerance.

Real-world examples of market capitalization

In traditional stock markets, market capitalization provides insights into the total value of a company’s outstanding shares. Here are some real-world examples in the crypto and stocks realm:

Crypto: 

  • Bitcoin: The most popular cryptocurrency with a current market cap of $552.41B
  • Ethereum: Second most popular crypto asset with a market cap of $208B
  • Tether: The most popular stablecoin and currently ranks third in overall crypto rankings. It has a total market cap of $83B.

Stocks:

  • Apple: With a market cap of $2.676 trillion, Apple is the world’s most valuable company by market cap. 
  • Microsoft: With a market cap of $2.345 trillion, Microsoft is the world’s second-most valuable company
  • Amazon: As of October 2023, Amazon has a market cap of $1.311 Trillion, making it the world’s fifth most valuable company. 

Market cap in investment and financial analysis

market cap explained

Cryptocurrencies are categorized into three main groups based on their market cap: small-cap, mid-cap, and large-cap. When assessing crypto assets with varying market caps, the length of your investment horizon plays a significant role in risk management. Longer timelines offer more opportunity for your portfolio to recover from volatility.

Long-term investors, such as those planning for retirement decades away, may benefit from the growth potential of small- and mid-cap cryptocurrencies while having time to weather market downturns. Conversely, investors seeking lower risk may prefer to anchor their portfolio in less-volatile large- and mega-cap assets, with a smaller allocation to small- and mid-caps.

Market capitalization in financial decision-making

In financial analysis, market capitalization serves as a key metric beyond just cryptocurrency prices. It helps assess whether an asset is stable, solvent, liquid, or profitable enough for investment. It also indicates a cryptocurrency’s growth potential and relative safety compared to others.

Overall, while analyzing a cryptocurrency’s market capitalization is vital, it’s crucial to integrate it with metrics like trading volume, supply dynamics, and other pertinent indicators to ensure a holistic and accurate valuation.

Frequently asked questions

What is market capitalization and why is it important?

What is the market capitalization formula?

What is the difference between market share and market capitalization?

Is a high market cap good or bad?

Is market cap a good indicator?

Why is market cap important in crypto?

Is it good for crypto to have a high market cap?

Top crypto platforms in the US | February 2024

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Ayotomiwa Oladotun
Ayotomiwa is a tech writer and marketer focused on blockchain, crypto, DeFi, the metaverse, and NFTs. Ayotomiwa works with a number of emerging tech startups and crypto exchange platforms, including being the content manager for BeArt LLC. Ayotomiwa holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
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