Shares of AgEagle Aerial Systems (UAVS 2.56%) climbed nearly 25% on Friday after the drone company came out swinging against a short-seller that raised questions about the company a day earlier. The stock is still down for the week, but is on the rebound following the company's response.
AgEagle stock has come a long way in a short amount of time. The shares are up 1,900% in the past year, as the one-time penny stock jumped onto investor radars on talk that its agriculture drones could be of interest to Amazon or another e-commerce company for use in retail delivery.
On Thursday, Bonitas Research released a report questioning those ambitions. The firm, which is short AgEagle shares, said the Amazon rumor was sparked by a promotional video first uploaded by the daughter of AgEagle founder and former chairman Bret Chilcott.
Bonitas noted an Amazon spokesperson in late 2020 told the Wichita Business Journal that the company has no dealings with AgEagle. The firm called AgEagle "a pump & dump scheme" designed "to defraud U.S. investors." It also noted a decrease in insider ownership during the stock run up.
AgEagle went on the offensive on Friday, with CEO J. Michael Drozd saying in a statement the Bonitas report "contains multiple baseless claims, which we refute in the strongest possible terms. It is a clear attempt to manipulate and profit from the Company's resulting stock price decline."
AgEagle said it is contractually obligated to not disclose the name of the "major e-commerce client" it is working with, and said insider ownership has fallen not because of insiders selling but because of an increase in shares issued. Chilcott is no longer affiliated with the company, AgEagle noted, so is no longer considered an insider.
Finally, AgEagle said that in recent years, "several media outlets reported on one instance where legal action was taken against Bonitas Research for making false and materially misleading statements to the public."
If you are a shareholder it is nice to see the company swing back, but worth noting that we really don't know more now than we did a few days ago. Two sides have now exchanged accusations, but we don't have any idea whether there is a potential e-commerce customer, whether the customer is actually planning on working with AgEagle, or what a deal might look like if a partnership is worked out.
What we do know is that AgEagle today is valued by the market at more than $600 million, or more than 400 times its total revenue over the past 12 months. The company has been steadily growing sales, but there is a lot of potential growth already baked into the share price at these levels.
Given the sky-high valuation, and the uncertainty surrounding the business, I see no reason for investors to buy in now and see how all of this plays out.