In this part, I am going to analyze which coin (Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin) was the most profitable in last two months using buy and hold strategy. We’ll go through the analysis of these 3 cryptocurrencies and try to give an objective answer.

You can run this code by downloading this Jupyter notebook.

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Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin
Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

Here are a few links you might be interested in:

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links above are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link courses because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.


I am not a trader and this blog post is not a financial advice. This is purely introductory knowledge. The conclusion here can be misleading as we analyze the time period with immense growth.


For other requirements, see my previous blog post in this series.

Getting the data

To get the latest data, go to previous blog post, where I described how to download it using Cryptocompare API. You can also use the data I work with in this example.

First, we download hourly data for BTC, ETH and LTC from Coinbase exchange. This time we work with hourly time interval as it has higher granularity. Cryptocompare API limits response to 2000 samples, which is 2.7 months of data for each coin.

import pandas as pd

def get_filename(from_symbol, to_symbol, exchange, datetime_interval, download_date):
    return '%s_%s_%s_%s_%s.csv' % (from_symbol, to_symbol, exchange, datetime_interval, download_date)

def read_dataset(filename):
    print('Reading data from %s' % filename)
    df = pd.read_csv(filename)
    df.datetime = pd.to_datetime(df.datetime) # change type from object to datetime
    df = df.set_index('datetime') 
    df = df.sort_index() # sort by datetime
    return df

Load the data

df_btc = read_dataset(get_filename('BTC', 'USD', 'Coinbase', 'hour', '2017-12-24'))
df_eth = read_dataset(get_filename('ETH', 'USD', 'Coinbase', 'hour', '2017-12-24'))
df_ltc = read_dataset(get_filename('LTC', 'USD', 'Coinbase', 'hour', '2017-12-24'))
Reading data from BTC_USD_Coinbase_hour_2017-12-24.csv
(2001, 6)
Reading data from ETH_USD_Coinbase_hour_2017-12-24.csv
(2001, 6)
Reading data from LTC_USD_Coinbase_hour_2017-12-24.csv
(2001, 6)
low high open close volumefrom volumeto
2017-10-02 08:00:00 4435.00 4448.98 4435.01 4448.85 85.51 379813.67
2017-10-02 09:00:00 4448.84 4470.00 4448.85 4464.49 165.17 736269.53
2017-10-02 10:00:00 4450.27 4469.00 4464.49 4461.63 194.95 870013.62
2017-10-02 11:00:00 4399.00 4461.63 4461.63 4399.51 326.71 1445572.02
2017-10-02 12:00:00 4378.22 4417.91 4399.51 4383.00 549.29 2412712.73

Extract closing prices

We are going to analyze closing prices, which are prices at which the hourly period closed. We merge BTC, ETH and LTC closing prices to a Dataframe to make analysis easier.

df = pd.DataFrame({'BTC': df_btc.close,
                   'ETH': df_eth.close,
                   'LTC': df_ltc.close})
2017-10-02 08:00:00 4448.85 301.37 54.72
2017-10-02 09:00:00 4464.49 301.84 54.79
2017-10-02 10:00:00 4461.63 301.95 54.63
2017-10-02 11:00:00 4399.51 300.02 54.01
2017-10-02 12:00:00 4383.00 297.51 53.71


Basic statistics

In 2.7 months, all three cryptocurrencies fluctuated a lot as you can observe in the table below.

For each coin, we count the number of events and calculate mean, standard deviation, minimum, quartiles and maximum closing price.


  • The difference between the highest and the lowest BTC price was more than $15000 in 2.7 months.
  • The LTC surged from \$48.61 to $378.66 at a certain point, which is an increase of 678.98%.
count 2001.000000 2001.000000 2001.000000
mean 9060.256122 407.263793 106.790100
std 4404.269591 149.480416 89.142241
min 4150.020000 277.810000 48.610000
25% 5751.020000 301.510000 55.580000
50% 7319.950000 330.800000 63.550000
75% 11305.000000 464.390000 100.050000
max 19847.110000 858.900000 378.660000

Lets dive deeper into LTC

We visualize the data in the table above with a box plot. A box plot shows the quartiles of the dataset with points that are determined to be outliers using a method of the inter-quartile range (IQR). In other words, the IQR is the first quartile (25%) subtracted from the third quartile (75%).

On the box plot below, we see that LTC closing hourly price was most of the time between \$50 and \$100 in the last 2.7 months. All values over \$150 are outliers (using IQR). Note that outliers are specific to this data sample.

import seaborn as sns

ax = sns.boxplot(data=df['LTC'], orient="h")
Boxplot LTC
LTC Boxplot with closing hourly prices

Histogram of LTC closing price

Let’s estimate the frequency distribution of LTC closing prices. The histogram shows the number of hours LTC had a certain value.


  • LTC closing price was not over $100 for many hours.
  • it has right-skewed distribution because a natural limit prevents outcomes on one side.
  • blue dashed line (median) shows that half of the time closing prices were under $63.50.
df['LTC'].hist(bins=30, figsize=(15,10)).axvline(df['LTC'].median(), color='b', linestyle='dashed', linewidth=2)
Histogram LTC
Histogram for LTC with median

Visualize absolute closing prices

The chart below shows absolute closing prices. It is not of much use as BTC closing prices are much higher then prices of ETH and LTC.

df.plot(grid=True, figsize=(15, 10))
Absolute closing price changes of BTC, ETH and LTC
Absolute closing price changes of BTC, ETH and LTC

Visualize relative changes of closing prices

We are interested in a relative change of the price rather than in absolute price, so we use three different y-axis scales.

We see that closing prices move in tandem. When one coin closing price increases so do the other.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np

fig, ax1 = plt.subplots(figsize=(20, 10))
ax2 = ax1.twinx()
rspine = ax2.spines['right']
rspine.set_position(('axes', 1.15))

df['BTC'].plot(ax=ax1, style='b-')
df['ETH'].plot(ax=ax1, style='r-', secondary_y=True)
df['LTC'].plot(ax=ax2, style='g-')

# legend
           ['BTC', 'ETH', 'LTC'])
Relative closing price changes of BTC, ETH and LTC
Relative closing price changes of BTC, ETH and LTC

Measure correlation of closing prices

We calculate Pearson correlation between closing prices of BTC, ETH and LTC. Pearson correlation is a measure of the linear correlation between two variables X and Y. It has a value between +1 and −1, where 1 is total positive linear correlation, 0 is no linear correlation, and −1 is total negative linear correlation. Correlation matrix is symmetric so we only show the lower half.

Sifr Data daily updates Pearson correlations for many cryptocurrencies.


  • Closing prices aren’t normalized, see Log Returns, where we normalize closing prices before calculating correlation,
  • BTC, ETH and LTC were highly correlated in past 2 months. This means, when BTC closing price increased, ETH and LTC followed.
  • ETH and LTC were even more correlated with 0.9565 Pearson correlation coefficient.
import seaborn as sns
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Compute the correlation matrix
corr = df.corr()

# Generate a mask for the upper triangle
mask = np.zeros_like(corr, dtype=np.bool)
mask[np.triu_indices_from(mask)] = True

# Set up the matplotlib figure
f, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(10, 10))

# Draw the heatmap with the mask and correct aspect ratio
sns.heatmap(corr, annot=True, fmt = '.4f', mask=mask, center=0, square=True, linewidths=.5)
Pearson Corelation BTC, ETH and LTC
Pearson Correlation for BTC, ETH and LTC

Buy and hold strategy

Buy and hold is a passive investment strategy in which an investor buys a cryptocurrency and holds it for a long period of time, regardless of fluctuations in the market.

Let’s analyze returns using buy and hold strategy for past 2.7 months. We calculate the return percentage, where $t$ represents a certain time period and $price_0$ is initial closing price:

\[return_{t, 0} = \frac{price_t}{price_0}\]
df_return = df.apply(lambda x: x / x[0])
2017-10-02 08:00:00 1.000000 1.000000 1.000000
2017-10-02 09:00:00 1.003516 1.001560 1.001279
2017-10-02 10:00:00 1.002873 1.001925 0.998355
2017-10-02 11:00:00 0.988909 0.995520 0.987025
2017-10-02 12:00:00 0.985198 0.987192 0.981542

Visualize returns

We show that LTC was the most profitable for time period between October 2, 2017 and December 24, 2017.

df_return.plot(grid=True, figsize=(15, 10)).axhline(y = 1, color = "black", lw = 2)
Visualize returns
Factor of returns for BTC, ETH and LTC in 2.7 months


The cryptocurrencies we analyzed fluctuated a lot but all gained in a given 2.7 months period.

What is the percentage increase?

df_perc = df_return.tail(1) * 100
ax = sns.barplot(data=df_perc)
2017-12-24 16:00:00 314.688065 226.900488 501.407164
What is the percentage increase?
The percentage increase for BTC, ETH and LTC in 2.7 months

How many coins could we bought for $1000?

budget = 1000 # USD
df_coins = budget/df.head(1)

ax = sns.barplot(data=df_coins)
2017-10-02 08:00:00 0.224777 3.31818 18.274854
How many coins could we bought for \$1000?
The amount of coins we could buy with \$1000 a while ago

How much money would we make?

df_profit = df_return.tail(1) * budget

ax = sns.barplot(data=df_profit)
2017-12-24 16:00:00 3146.880655 2269.004878 5014.071637
How much money would we make?
The amount of money we would make if we invested \$1000 a while ago