Crypto investors are returning attention to two big catalysts – a bitcoin ETF and the Bitcoin halving – and Bernstein has ways to play each. Crypto is entering a seasonally upbeat period for markets just as investor interest in crypto has been brought back to life thanks to renewed optimism in recent weeks around a potential bitcoin ETF being approved in 2024. Even as investors debate whether or not that expected approval has been priced in to the performance of crypto assets and stocks, there’s another positive catalyst set to follow not long after: the bitcoin halving , which historically marks the beginning of the next big bull run in crypto. With that backdrop, Bernstein recently initiated coverage on bitcoin mining stocks, with an outperform rating on both Riot Platforms and CleanSpark and a market perform rating on Marathon Digital . “Right now, you should buy RIOT and CLSK, with clear market catalysts around bitcoin ETF approval in early 2024,” Bernstein analyst Gautam Chhugani said in a note Monday. “Further, with increased market trading volumes and bitcoin trading interest resuming, we expect these stocks to reflect the improved market sentiment.” “Post the ETF approval, we expect some calm in the market, as the focus shifts to observing the initial launch success of these ETF products,” he added. “We expect a gradual build out and not immediate runaway success.” Further down the road, there’s the next bitcoin halving, which is expected in the spring of 2024. It happens approximately every four years, when the reward for mining bitcoin is cut in half as mandated in the Bitcoin code to reduce the supply of the cryptocurrency over time. It’s a highly anticipated market moving event for investors. “If you are looking to gain exposure to the new bitcoin cycle, you should buy a clear category winner – our pick is Riot,” Chhugani said, which Bernstein sees as a “relative share gainer” after the halving. “Focus on the next 18 months of the bitcoin bull cycle and use RIOT as a high-beta proxy.” RIOT YTD mountain Riot Platform shares year to date Riot is well known as one of the lowest-cost bitcoin producers. Chhugani noted it’s been adding network capacity heading into the halving and praised its “clear strategy and operational edge” and strong operational pipeline – including land sites, mining equipment contracts, infrastructure build out and power agreements. However, the halving is also a market clearing event for miners. When the mining reward is cut in half, so too are mining companies’ revenue. And although miners are widely seen as proxies for the bitcoin price, the halving could push unprofitable miners out of the market allowing more sustainable miners to gain market share. “We expect investors to be cautious around this period,” Chhugani said. “Thus, our recommendation is to buy now into ETF positive news and observe for new catalysts – ETF early volumes and hashpower buildout into halving.” Bitcoin’s hashrate, or network capacity, has continued to reach all-time highs in recent weeks as miners seek to get the most out of the bitcoin rewards before the halving. —CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.