Is BigBear.ai Stock a Buy Now?


The tech world is a competitive landscape. Three companies vying for investor attention in the even more heated subsector of data analytics are Snowflake (SNOW 0.40%), Palantir (PLTR -1.27%), and BigBear.ai (BBAI -3.38%). Snowflake and Palantir are established players, but BigBear.ai is a fresher name trying to carve out its niche in this gigantic market. So, should investors consider adding this up-and-coming data analytics expert to their stock portfolios?

BigBear.ai by the numbers

Let’s examine the valuation metrics in this area.

Snowflake, with its high price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of 18.6, is soaring on a wave of investor optimism. Palantir’s even richer P/S ratio of 24.1 suggests it might be overvalued, even in comparison to Snowflake. BigBear.ai, on the other hand, carries a more modes P/S ratio of 2.0.

The equation changes dramatically if you switch from sales to profit-based metrics. Snowflake and Palantir trade at triple-digit multiples to forward earnings estimates. Their price to free cash flow ratios stand between 60 and 80. These are nosebleed-inducing numbers, more than enough to keep value investors far away.

But BigBear isn’t profitable in any meaningful way. The company has recently achieved positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and operating cash flows, but only on a single-quarter basis and by the slimmest of margins. That’s a nice start but its trailing four-quarter results remain negative. Therefore, traditional valuation metrics don’t make sense for this unprofitable enterprise.

However, profit-based valuation is just one piece of the puzzle. The potential for sustained business growth is crucial for identifying future winners, especially in the growth-oriented tech sector. Snowflake boasts impressive historical and projected EPS growth, justifying its premium to some extent. Palantir, while showing decent growth, hasn’t fully convinced everyone it can maintain its momentum. BigBear.ai, as a new company, still needs to prove its long-term growth trajectory.

As it stands today, BigBear hasn’t even started the ignition process. Snowflake and Palantir enjoyed robust top-line gains in the artificial intelligence (AI) boom of 2023, but BigBear’s revenue growth actually slowed down instead:

BBAI Revenue (TTM) Chart

BBAI Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts

A quick overview

Now, let’s take a closer look at BigBear.ai and its larger rivals:

  • Snowflake: The data warehousing company is popular for its cloud-based platform and scalability. However, its high valuation, limited profits, and dependence on a few large customers are concerns for some investors.
  • Palantir: This data analytics company is known for its work with government agencies and its focus on artificial intelligence. However, its opaque business model and heavy reliance on government contracts raise questions about its long-term prospects.
  • BigBear.ai: This newcomer focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions for government and commercial clients. Its lower valuation and promising technology are attractive, but its short operating history and lack of profitability are significant risks. Furthermore, for better or worse, this company relies on government contracts to an even larger degree than Palantir.

To buy, or not to buy, that is the question

So, is BigBear.ai stock a better buy than Snowflake or Palantir today?

The answer is complicated. While its lower valuation might seem appealing, remember that this young company still needs to prove itself — and it’s off to a relatively slow start, as seen in the revenue chart above.

For investors seeking a safer bet with proven growth, Snowflake might be the better choice despite its premium price. Palantir, with its intriguing technology and government connections, could be a good high-growth idea for those willing to take on more risk.

BigBear.ai, with its unproven potential for high growth, might appeal to speculative investors comfortable with a higher degree of uncertainty. Remember, growth investors won’t pay too much attention until the company shifts its operating gearbox into a higher gear, and value investors aren’t even looking in BigBear.ai’s direction yet.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to invest in BigBear.ai depends on your individual risk tolerance and investment goals. Carefully weigh the potential rewards against the risks before making your decision. Personally, I’d rather take a second look at Snowflake or Palantir before putting real money into BigBear.ai stock.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Palantir Technologies and Snowflake. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.



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