- Coronavirus pandemic has acted as a boon for AI / Tech based companies facilitating smooth online-based transactions or applications.
- Several tech players recorded sharp growth in their topline with increased merchants on board and customers, globally.
- With an expected second wave of the pandemic, future of tech companies looks promising.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – AI-driven tech companies have followed this phrase to a tee. They are determined to make life easy for people by offering products that are acting as a saviour when number of people have been forced to operate from home.
The pandemic has pushed many businesses to be operated from home or at limited capacity. As social distancing seems to be the new normal, a rise in demand has been felt for online education providers, digital payment facilitators and other online business meeting applications. Technology has indeed become the lifeline of an economy in the current times.
On the back of rising demand for tech-based services, many AI/tech companies have also experienced surge in their share prices. Companies, like Appen, Splitit Payments and Afterpay have seen spike in their share prices in past few months, highlighting a remarkable, COVID-19-proof performance.
Let us skim through how these companies fared amid the COVID-19 situation.
Appen Limited (ASX: APX)
Appen, provides training data for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) products, got listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in January 2015. During the pandemic period, share price of APX hit its low in March and since then, it has recovered steadily.
On 4 June, the company released a market update, highlighting that Non-Executive Chairman, CEO/Managing Director and a Non-Executive Director cut back on shares, which had a negative impact on the share price, consecutively for three days. The prices have gone up since then.
The company has recorded a stunning revenue growth at a 59% CAGR since 2015. Its current customer base aids revenue growth with increased demand for existing and new projects. APX has been in the business for 24 years and addresses more than 1 million crowd from over 130 countries through its technology platform covering more than 180 languages.
Appen plans to make considerable investment in sales and marketing in FY20 to augment further growth. The company relies upon its robust growth plan that focuses on technology, automotive, financial services, and other industries, globally.
APX intends to focus on China for onboarding additional clients. AI domain is the current go-to-technology for digitisation across industries that act as an opportunity for Appen, which is a pioneer in providing AI-based training data.
The APX stock delivered a return of 70.86% in the last three months and was trading at AU$ 33.580 on 22 June 2020 (AEST 12:17 PM), down by 0.739% from its previous close.
Splitit Payments Ltd (ASX:SPT)
On 18 June 2020, global payment solutions provider, Splitit Payments announced a multi-year collaboration with Mastercard as a network partner that allows Splitit to integrate its instalment solution with Mastercard’s technology suite platform. The digital integration will facilitate seamless online and instore transactions by merchants.
According to Splitit CEO Brad Paterson, the Mastercard deal has help capitalise on Mastercard’s global reach, thus broadening the distribution of the company’s solution.
Splitit and Mastercard intend to jointly develop instalment and related space products with plans to launch pilots across 3 markets before the worldwide rollout.
On 4 June 2020, SPT shares witnessed a jump of more than 20%, primarily backed by the release of a trading update, highlighting that monthly Merchant Sales Volume (MSV) in May hit US$25.8 million, demonstrating a 39% jump compared to April 2020 and a 321% increase over May 2019.
Geographically, MSV increased by 336% in North America and 548% in Europe over May 2019. From the end of first quarter of FY20, total unique shoppers went up by 18% to reach 290,000 in May and total merchant base stood at 964, representing an increase of 12%.
On 2 June 2020, Splitit and BlueSnap collaborated to integrate BlueSnap’s All-in-One Payment platform with Splitit’s instalment platform, allowing SPT to boost sales conversions and average order value.
In early May 2020, the company announced completion of a placement, with the issue and allotment of more than 39 million shares, raising AU$16 million. The company plans to use the funds raised for continued implementation of its strategy towards registering high growth. It plans to park funds in go-to-market and technology resources. Moreover, proceeds would be directed towards working capital and supporting existing merchant credit facilities.
In the last three months, the stock has gained 512.50% and was trading at AU$ 1.5225 on 22 June 2020 (AEST 12:52 PM), up by 3.741% from its previous close.
Afterpay Limited (ASX:APT)
Afterpay provides instalment-based payment solutions wherein the merchants get paid immediately and customers pay the amount in four simple instalments.
Since the beginning of the year 2020, the company has reached various milestones including completion of a share purchase plan in January 2020. Without any brokerage or fees, AU$15k of new fully paid ordinary shares were allotted to eligible shareholders from ANZ under the plan.
In late-February 2020, the company updated the market with its first half performance, registering a 109% increase in underlying sales to AU$4.8 billion, on the back of strong revenue growth in the markets of United States, Australia and New Zealand. APT highlighted serving 7.3 million active customers and communicated expansion plans with strong funding position, which will assist the company in executing its strategies.
During mid-April, the company announced to have recorded AU$7.3 billion in sales for the year till date period. Afterpay also highlighted a strong cash position.
During late-May, the company partnered with Tencent Holdings Limited. The deal provided Tencent with a 5% stake in APT. The company also informed its investors of reaching 5 million customers in the US. Other business highlights included formal appointment of Elana Rubin as chair of the Group and addition of APT to MSCI Australia Index.
With COVID-19 continuing to impact all the major economies, and APT well positioned to expand, there seems a promising future that may uptick the share price considerably.
APT gained 492.83% in the last three months and was trading at AU$ 58.720 on 22 June 2020 (AEST 01:26 PM), up by 0.051% from its previous close.
Disclaimer: All the currencies mentioned are in AUD unless specified
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