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Bitcoin is the 'gateway drug' to cryptomania, and analyst Nick Colas sees no end in sight

Wall Street's first analyst to cover bitcoin never thought it would reach such a fever pitch.

"It is clear that all of the enthusiasm around bitcoin earlier in the year has now morphed into a general craze, if you will, for all things crypto," Nick Colas said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "I think of bitcoin as kind of the gateway drug."

The DataTrek Research co-founder has also been referring to the mania as the "Wild West."

It has been a heck of a breakout year.

Bitcoin has surged nearly 2,000 percent during the past 12 months and is trading above $16,000. The cryptocurrency's value has been constantly fluctuating as it battles volatility.

Smaller competitors litecoin and etherium are going for around $300 and $786, respectively.

Colas doesn't see any shortcuts around the hefty price to pay for the cryptocurrencies.

According to Colas, investors who are looking for a cheaper way to play them by targeting micro- and small-cap stocks tied to the mania could get hit hard.

"People have seen cryptocurrencies, as you said, go 100 percent up in a matter of weeks. And, they think stocks could do the same thing. But it is very different," he said. "The stocks have to have an underlying business principle today. The cryptos are going to give us a lot more in terms of a future runway. So, they're not the same thing at all."

In the meantime, Colas is holding onto his cryptocurrency holdings — disclosing that he owns everything Coinbase allows people own. He got in before the meteoric rise.

"It does feel like we have more room to go," Colas said. "I think we'll still bring new money in, but there will be a lot more rotation, just like we have in the stock market."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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