Technology stocks have experienced pronounced market volatility over the last two years. Whether it was a fleeting interest in the metaverse, high-profile initial public offerings (IPO), or the rising adoption of crypto, investors have witnessed peaks and valleys in growth stocks since the outset of the pandemic.
Data analytics provider Palantir Technologies (PLTR -9.22%) often finds its name in the headlines because both the public and private sectors are increasingly using the company's robust software platform. However, over the last 12 months, the company's stock has cratered by 45%. But as investor enthusiasm has waned, Wall Street has identified some catalysts that could serve as long-term growth drivers for the stock.
What is Wall Street saying?
Over the last month, Wall Street banks Piper Sandler (PIPR 2.33%) and Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Company have initiated coverage of Palantir stock and assigned a buy or buy-equivalent rating. Piper Sandler's current price target is $15 per share, while Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Company arrived at $20 per share, which implies a 67% upside from where the stock trades today.
Alongside Palantir's 2021 earnings results, management issued guidance with expectations of at least 30% revenue growth year over year through 2025. Both banks believe that this target is achievable, given Palantir's most recent operating results, and highlighted increased sales and marketing hiring, as well as continued geographic penetration, as top tailwinds that could propel the company forward.
Are these points valid?
In 2021, Palantir generated $1.5 billion in revenue, up 41% year over year. What's most impressive about this growth is the company's penetration of both the public and private sectors. In its early days, Palantir primarily focused on selling software products to the U.S. Government. However, its 2021 results showcased how the company is beginning to gain traction in the commercial atmosphere. Given Palantir's ability to expand beyond its core end market of government agencies and win large deals in the private sector, Wall Street believes that Palantir should be able to reach its future revenue commitment of at least 30%.
In 2021, Palantir grew revenue in its commercial segment by 34% year over year. Moreover, commercial-sector customers tripled in 2021 to 147 total clients.
Perhaps the most encouraging indicator of Palantir's capabilities is its net dollar retention, which measures how much a company's recurring revenue has increased or decreased over some time by accounting for expansions, as well as churn. Net dollar retention was 113% in the commercial sector, while Palantir's government business reported 146%. The impressive net dollar retention has contributed nicely to Palantir's profitability profile. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2021, Palantir's operating cash flow was $334 million. To reach its long-term revenue goal, Palantir has stated its intent to aggressively invest in sales efforts.
For reference, the company began 2021 with only 12 members of its U.S. commercial sales force. But by year's end, Palantir had grown this to a team of 80. Throughout the year, it signed several impressive customers in the commercial realm such as The Merck Group and Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. To nurture these customers and augment growth in other areas around the globe, Palantir will parallel its U.S. commercial-sector hiring strategy and target additional sales representatives throughout western Europe in countries like France, Germany, and Italy, as well as in South Korea and the Middle East.
Another key focus that made Wall Street perk up is Palantir's ongoing investment in digital transformation. Although areas such as customer relationship management (CRM) or financial reporting analytics have their own specific tools, Palantir differentiates itself because its platforms mesh together software, artificial intelligence, and data analytics into one cohesive solution. As data becomes more integral for decision-makers inside corporations, Palantir could benefit from its all-in-one platform.
Keep an eye on valuation
Palantir stock is down over 30% since early January and over 40% during the last 12 months. Currently, the company is trading at 15 times its trailing-12-month sales. By comparison, Palantir was trading at 21 times trailing-12-month sales around the same time in 2021.
Despite Palantir's sell-off, Wall Street has highlighted several interesting growth drivers for the company. Moreover, the catalysts identified are meant to serve long-term growth rather than short-term momentum. The company is trading at a significant discount compared to its prior highs and has created a roadmap to generate and sustain long-term growth. As a result, now might be the optimal time to take a look at Palantir for your own portfolio.