Shiba Inu Is Already Up 220% in 2024, Crushing Bitcoin. Is It Too Late to Buy?

If you'd bought Shiba Inu (CRYPTO: SHIB) tokens at the beginning of 2021 and sold them at the end of the same year, you would have earned a mind-boggling return of 45,278,000%. That would have been enough to turn a $3 investment into more than $1 million.

The meme token then wound up plunging more than 90% from its all-time high during the collapse of the cryptocurrency industry in 2022. It failed to mount a comeback in 2023 despite improving sentiment across the industry and a strong rebound in leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC).

But Shiba Inu is off to a red-hot start to 2024. It's up more than 220% so far, which is more than triple the year-to-date gain of Bitcoin. So should investors chase the rally? Those hoping for a repeat of 2021 might be disappointed, because it would be mathematically impossible (and I'll explain why).

While Shiba Inu might continue to rise from here, nothing has really changed for the token, so it's potentially doomed to an unfortunate fate in the long run.

A sad Shiba Inu puppy sitting inside a cage.

Image source: Getty Images.

Shiba Inu has failed the adoption test

Cryptocurrencies were once considered viable replacements for traditional money. However, even Bitcoin suffers from significant amounts of volatility, which the average consumer can't tolerate in a currency. As a result, mainstream adoption remains low -- Bitcoin is accepted as payment by just 9,399 businesses worldwide, and Shiba Inu is faring even worse with just 922 merchants on board.

Shiba Inu faces a few other challenges too. It was built on the legacy Ethereum blockchain, which is clunky with high transaction costs. Developers launched Shibarium last year, which is a Layer 2 blockchain solution designed to process transactions off-chain, reducing load on the underlying network (and costs). It hasn't improved Shiba Inu's adoption all that much, but it makes the token a more viable candidate for obscure use cases like metaverse and gaming transactions.

Shiba Inu also faces a supply issue with more than 589 trillion tokens in circulation, and in a moment I'll explain why that will hinder its ability to deliver astronomical gains from here. The community is making efforts to reduce supply by burning tokens, but progress has been slow so far.

Simply put, Shiba Inu doesn't have much of a use case beyond being a vehicle for speculation. Investors buy it with the hope that somebody will come along and pay them a higher price in the future, except there is no real fundamental reason for doing so. As a result, Shiba Inu is basically a house of cards, and the further it rises, the harder it's likely to eventually fall (as it did in 2022).

Can Shiba Inu gain another 45,278,000% from here?

If Shiba Inu were to repeat its 2021 gain from here, it would soar from its current price of about $0.000034 per token all the way to $15.57. Considering there are 589.3 trillion tokens in circulation, that would give Shiba Inu a market cap of $9,175 trillion -- or $9.17 quadrillion.

For context, that would make Shiba Inu 328 times more valuable than the entire U.S. economy. It would also be 3,038 times more valuable than Microsoft, the largest company in the world by market cap.

In essence, it is impossible for Shiba Inu to repeat its 2021 gain. However, the token has surged by more than 220% in 2024 already, so investors are clearly willing to speculate on further upside.

Could Shiba Inu reclaim its all-time high of $0.000089? It's possible, and that would imply a further gain of 158% from here. But considering all of the headwinds for the token I discussed earlier, investors should tread carefully. Shiba Inu soared in 2021 with no warning, but it dealt substantial losses to investors who were late to the party.

That can happen again at any moment, and as is the case with all speculative assets, there will be no way to predict it.

Should you invest $1,000 in Shiba Inu right now?

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Anthony Di Pizio has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2026 $395 calls on Microsoft and short January 2026 $405 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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