What happened

Data analytics company Palantir Technologies (NYSE:PLTR) has long been a favorite of the WallStreetBets subreddit community, leading to a lot of volatility in the stock in recent weeks. Monday was no exception, with Palantir shares trading up as much as 21% and down as much as 10% midday before stabilizing to trade up nearly 10% in the final hour of trading.

So what

Palantir went public in late September and has captured investor imagination in the months since. The stock has nearly doubled since its debut, with investors attracted to its well-regarded technology and high-profile backers including its executive chairman, Peter Thiel.

The company provides data analysis for a range of government and private customers but is best known for its work with government spy agencies, including reportedly being involved in the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Illustration of workers and a secure cloud

Image source: Getty Images.

Palantir has been a battleground stock in WallStreetBets' fight against prominent short-seller Citron Research, which back in November wrote Palantir is "no longer a stock but a full casino." 

But Palantir shares even before Monday's jump looked expensive for a defense contractor, trading at more than 40 times expected 2020 sales of just over $1 billion. The stock continues to trade more on enthusiasm about what the business might become than what it is now, and it trades aggressively. As of 3:30 p.m. EST Monday, about 180 million shares had traded hands, nearly three times the average daily volume, on a day with little news.

Now what

Last week I wrote that Palantir stock was overvalued. It's up more than 25% since I wrote that, which is a reminder that it is hard to predict short-term price movements.

The stock may well continue to climb higher in the weeks and months to come. As my Foolish colleague Rich Smith notes, Palantir heads into an investor demonstration day Tuesday with some hoping the company's tech can push sales rapidly higher.

But most of that expected growth is already priced in right now, and the company has a lot of work to do for the fundamentals to even come close to matching its stock valuation. For those looking for long-term investments that don't require constant attention, I'd advise staying away from Palantir until this current volatility settles down.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.