Shares of big data contractor Palantir Technologies (PLTR 3.30%) plunged in afternoon trading Thursday, down 7% as of 1:30 p.m. EST, an apparent victim of stock market turbulence surrounding the recent short-squeezing phenomenon -- and efforts by regulators, stock brokers, and Wall Street talking heads to combat it.
And yet, the actual news about Palantir today is quite good.
This morning, Palantir announced it has signed a multiyear enterprise agreement for mining concern Rio Tinto (RIO 0.58%) to use its Foundry Platform to "integrate raw data from a multitude of disparate sources into a representation of critical mining operations."
Granted, Palantir did not ascribe a value to the contract with Rio Tinto, but Palantir COO Shyam Sankar did let on that Palantir considers the deal to be "a significant industry partnership," indicating that the deal size is probably material.
The question investors face now, unfortunately, is whether any single deal can be sufficiently material to justify Palantir's rocketing share price.
At $68.2 billion in market capitalization, Palantir -- which is not profitable now -- is not expected to become profitable by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) before 2024 at the earliest, generating only $47 million in positive free cash flow over the past year. Its stock sells for a valuation of more than 68 times sales and more than 1,450 times its annual cash profit.
Suffice it to say that, with numbers like these, short-sellers don't have to look very hard to find a reason to sell Palantir stock short.