Parabolic price moves are awe-inspiring, and it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon, but beware, as C3.ai (NYSE:AI) stock may have gotten ahead of itself. C3.ai is a promising business in the artificial intelligence (AI) space, but I am neutral on AI stock because its steep trajectory seems to indicate sky-high market expectations, which no company should ever have to fulfill.
C3.ai is, as the company’s name suggests, a provider of AI-empowered software products. Now, I’m certainly not denying that machine learning will be relevant throughout the 2020s. Economists with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) estimate that, over the next decade, AI will increase productivity in the U.S. by around 1.5% per year. Besides, the popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot shows how pervasive generative AI has become.
Just remember, though, that the financial markets are highly efficient, especially since everyone has immediate access to the relevant data nowadays. Thus, if people already understand the growth runway for machine learning in general — and if they’re prematurely pricing in terrific results for C3.ai in particular — this sounds like a recipe for disappointment ahead.
C3.ai Stock Goes to the Moon, but Not Necessarily Because of C3.ai
First and foremost, please take a look at the price chart of AI stock. It rose 33.42% on Tuesday, May 30, and that’s just one trading session. The company didn’t even release its fourth-quarter Fiscal-Year 2023 earnings results yet; that event is scheduled to take place after the market closes on Wednesday, May 31. So, why on earth would C3.ai stock skyrocket before the company’s earnings release?
Surely, a major factor is what we might call “AI fever.” Practically every mega-cap technology company’s first-quarter 2023 conference call mentioned AI multiple times. Investors have been eager to buy anything and everything with a connection to AI lately, especially if it involves generative AI. It’s starting to remind me of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in 2018 and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in 2021 (though I’ll admit that AI will likely have more real-world utility and enduring value than most cryptocurrencies and NFTs).
What really pushed C3.ai stock so high, though, is the recent enthusiasm surrounding Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). Since NVDA stock zoomed higher after Nvidia released forecast-beating quarterly earnings results, I suspect that financial traders want to front-run each other and buy AI stock in anticipation of a similar earnings blowout.
C3.ai Already Released Its Quarterly Results (Sort Of)
Speaking of front-running, let’s not ignore the fact that C3.ai already released its preliminary earnings results for Q4 FY2023. Hence, not only did AI stock traders already price in an outstanding set of quarterly results, but C3.ai eliminated much of the earnings-event uncertainty by releasing the company’s estimated ranges for its revenue, income (or lack thereof), and more.
Just to sum it up for your convenience, C3.ai expects to report quarterly revenue of $72.1 million to $72.4 million, a non-GAAP loss from operations totaling $23.7 million to $23.9 million, and free cash flow in the range of $18.0 million to $19.4 million. So, the company admits that it’s unprofitable. I’m not saying C3.ai is a zombie company or anything like that, but only that the general optimism surrounding C3.ai is somewhat overstated.
Furthermore, while C3.ai’s C3 Generative AI product is now widely available, the company still doesn’t have the most popular generative AI product; that title undoubtedly belongs to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. That’s a problem because some stockholders probably think that C3.ai is the leader of the generative AI market simply because “AI” is in the company’s name and stock ticker symbol.
Is AI Stock a Buy, According to Analysts?
Turning to Wall Street, AI stock comes in as a Hold based on three Buys, three Holds, and four Sell ratings. The average C3.ai stock price target is $20.50, implying over 53% downside potential.
If you’re wondering which analyst you should follow if you want to buy and sell AI stock, the most accurate analyst covering the stock (on a one-year timeframe) is Patrick Walravens of JMP Securities, with an average return of 17.32% per rating and a 60% success rate. Click on the image below to learn more.
Conclusion: Should You Consider C3.ai Stock?
As long as machine learning is top-of-mind on Wall Street, C3.ai will remain the focus of attention among short-term stock traders. Don’t expect this phase of the hype cycle to last forever, though.
I like C3.ai as a company, but not as much as AI’s stock chart would suggest. The best strategy, in my opinion, would likely be to wait for a pullback in the C3.ai share price before considering buying. If the upcoming quarterly earnings event makes me look foolish, and C3.ai stock keeps on rocketing higher, I don’t mind at all. That’s because sometimes, vertical price moves can persist for a surprisingly long time before gravity finally sets in.