Up 2.5x Since Its IPO, What Really Changed For Palantir Stock?

by Trefis Team
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Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) stock had a solid run since last November, rising from levels of $10 to around $25 currently, after trading relatively flat in the weeks following its public offering in late September. So what has really changed for Palantir stock in recent months to justify this change?

Although sectors such as cloud-based software and big data and analytics have been much sought after with investors through Covid-19, Palantir was one of the few software names that saw little movement post its IPO. The stock looked like a decent value back in October trading at roughly 15x projected 2020 revenues. The reasonable valuation, slightly stronger than expected Q3 2020 earnings published in November, and a series of contract wins (albeit small) likely helped the narrative around the stock, helping to build momentum and gain visibility with investors. Moreover, investors seem to be appreciating Palatir’s efforts to shift from a highly customized, time-consuming model that relies on engineers to configure, maintain, and upgrade its tools, to a slightly more standardized model. For instance, on its Form S-1, the company noted time required for its software to get up and running declined more than five-fold since Q2 2019 to an average of 14 days in Q2 2020. The standardization and lower resource usage are beginning to reflect on the company’s margins. Over Q3 2020, Adjusted Gross Margins expanded to 81% up from 70% last year. Such standardization should also help the company scale up its customer base particularly in the commercial space, where the company estimates its addressable market at about $56 billion. [1]

That said, Palantir does look expensive at current valuations trading at over 30x projected 2021 Revenue presently. See our interactive analysis on Palantir’s Valuation for more details on the company’s Revenues, current valuation, and how it compares with other analytics and software players.

[1/7/2021] Why Did Palantir Stock Decline 20% Over The Last Month?

The stock price of big data and analytics player Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) is down by about 20% over the past month. Although the company has seen some positive developments in recent weeks, including a new two-year contract with the UK National Health Service and a renewal of a previous deal with the U.S. Army that is valued at about $114 million for a year, the stock is being weighed down by a couple of factors. Firstly, some sell-side analysts have turned bearish on the stock, citing its high valuation. Palantir is up around 2.5x since its IPO and trades at about 28x projected 2021 Revenue. Secondly, Palantir’s IPO lockup period – through which insiders are forbidden to sell their holdings – will expire following its next earnings release, likely in mid-February. While Palantir went with a direct IPO that enabled insiders to sell 20% of their holdings at the time of listing, they will be free to sell the other 80% of their holdings as the lockup expires, boosting the supply of the stock. It’s possible that this could also be weighing on the stock.

See our interactive analysis on Palantir’s Valuation for more details on the company’s Revenues, current valuation, and how it compares with other analytics and software players.

[12/4/2020] Palantir Stock’s 2x Rise Isn’t Warranted

Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) stock has seen some big moves in recent weeks. While the stock had a muted debut post its September IPO, partly due to its direct listing that enabled insiders to sell their holdings, bolstering initial supply, the stock has more than doubled over the last one month, rising from levels of around $11 in early November to about $24 currently. So what has been driving the stock in recent weeks? While there hasn’t been a big change to the company’s fundamental picture to warrant such a jump, a combination of high retail investor interest in big data and analytics companies and marginally better than expected Q3 2020 earnings figures likely helped the stock. Over Q3, Revenues rose 52% year-over-year as the company continued to gain ground in the Government vertical (revenue up 68% year-over-year) with Commercial sales growing 35%.

While we thought Palantir’s valuation was attractive at levels of about $10 (see our comparison of Palantir and Snowflake below), we think its richly valued right now. Palantir now trades at about 40x projected 2020 Revenues. While this is still behind the likes of Datadog (which trades at 50x estimated 2020 Revenues) and Snowflake (over 150x), Palantir does have some unique risks. Firstly, Palantir typically benefits from significant economic and geopolitical uncertainty, and the Covid-19 pandemic and the related recession were likely big drivers of growth this year. However, with the availability of a highly effective Covid vaccine looking likely by early 2021, things could start to return to normal, potentially hurting growth. Secondly, Palantir remains highly dependent on government contracts (about 55% of total Revenue) – particularly in areas related to surveillance and national security – causing transparency and perception issues. Palantir’s most recent report indicates that the company is actually increasing its exposure to this space. Also, as we’ve noted previously, Palantir’s products don’t scale as seamlessly as other SaaS players, as they need to be adapted to the unique needs of customers. This could also hurt long-term growth.

See our interactive analysis on Snowflake’s Valuation and Palantir’s Valuation for more details on the two companies’ valuation.

[Updated 11/9/2020] Why Did Palantir Stock Soar?

Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) stock rallied by about 35% over the last week, trading at levels of about $14 per share, after remaining largely listless post its late September debut. Big data and analytics is a hot sector at the moment, though investors have been on the fence about Palantir’s  stock, given its high exposure to government contracts and also due to questions regarding the company’s ability to scale-up its user base. While it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly caused the jump last week, there could be a couple of factors.

Through Covid-19, Palantir has been seeing higher traction from the public health space, with its services used to track Covid-19 data from hospitals and to trace the spread of the virus. The company is also developing tools to help authorities with the logistics related to Covid vaccines. Last week it was reported that the company was in talks with the U.K government to support its contact tracing efforts in the country. This could give investors some confidence that the company is diversifying its revenue streams to an extent within the government space to areas that have lower transparency and perception issues. With the company’s Q3 earnings due on November 12, investors are likely anticipating a strong quarter.

[Updated 10/21/2020] Snowflake Vs. Palantir

The last month saw Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) and Snowflake (NYSE: SNOW) – two relatively high profile software players go public. Snowflake’s software enables organizations to manage and analyze large quantities and diverse types of data across public clouds such as Amazon’s AWS in a single, easy to use platform. Palantir offers big data and analytics solutions primarily used by governments and intelligence agencies, although it has been expanding its presence in the commercial space.

While the two companies are focused on big data, investors are valuing them very differently. Snowflake stock trades at over 120x projected FY’21 Revenues (FY ends January) while Palantir trades at just about 15x projected FY’20 Revenues (FY end December). Does this make sense? How do the companies compare in terms of business models, revenue growth rates, and margins? We provide more details below.

See our interactive analysis on Snowflake’s Valuation and Palantir’s Valuation for more details on the two companies’ valuation.

Revenues & Growth Rates

Palantir’s Revenues grew by 24% to about $740 million in 2019 and growth is likely to pick-up to levels of over 40% in 2020 as Covid-19 related disruptions increased demand for the company’s services. In comparison, Snowflake saw Revenue grow 173% from $97 million in FY’19 to about $265 million in FY’20, although the growth rate is likely to slow down to roughly 110% over the current fiscal based on consensus figures. Overall, Snowflake’s Revenues should grow at a higher rate compared to Palantir, considering its SaaS-based model which can scale to a large base of customers with much less customization. Palantir, on the other hand, needs engineers to adapt its tools to the unique needs of customers. Snowflake had over 3,100 customers as of July 2020, compared to Palantir which had about 125 customers as of its last fiscal year.

Profitability 

While Palantir is slightly ahead in terms of profit margins considering that it is the more mature company (Palantir was founded in 2003 versus Snowflake which was founded in 2012), we expect Snowflake to be more profitable in the long-run given its relatively more standardized product and lower customer acquisition costs. Snowflake posted a Gross Profit Margin of 62% for the first six months of FY’21, with Operating Margins standing at -72%. Palantir’s Gross Margins stood at about 72% over the first six months of 2020, with Operating Margins coming in at about -35%.

Valuation 

Snowflake stock has more than doubled from its IPO price of $120 to about $250 currently, valuing the company at about $70 billion. Palantir, on the other hand, hasn’t moved too much since its listing and is valued at about $15 billion. There are a couple of reasons for Snowflake’s premium valuation. Firstly, the company is growing much faster than Palantir and should also be more profitable in the long-run given its highly scalable delivery model. Investors have also been paying a big premium for growth stocks. Secondly, unlike Palantir which has high exposure to government contracts – particularly in areas related to surveillance and national security – causing transparency and perception issues, Snowflake’s business is focused on more commercial customers.

That said, Snowflake has considerable valuation risk, considering that it trades at about 122x projected FY’21 revenues, compared to Palantir which trades at just about 15x projected 2020 Revenues. The story could change quickly. If Snowflake’s growth rates slow down, with the company facing competition from cloud majors such as Amazon and Google who offer their own data warehousing solutions, investors could re-think its valuation. On the other side, investors could double down on Palantir stock if they see more proof points indicating that the company is making progress in the commercial sector, via high profile deals or stronger Revenue growth.

While Palantir stock may have moved 2.5x in recent months, 2020 has also created many pricing discontinuities which can offer attractive trading opportunities. For example, you’ll be surprised how counter-intuitive the stock valuation is for Apple vs Microsoft. Another example is Ansys vs Adobe.


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Notes:
  1. Palantir Form S-1 []
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