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âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“The results show weâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢re travelling pretty well,âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚ Appen CEO Mark Brayan told The Australian. âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“Weâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢re in a high growth space and I think being one of the larger, if not the largest, provider of data in to AI, so weâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢re enjoying a lot of growth there.

 

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“We operate two broad sides to the business, the first is the range of data types that includes speech data, image and video. That grew handsomely due to a very strong second half, it grew 27 per cent year on year.

 

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“While thatâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s pretty spectacular, it was really put in the shade by our largest division, which was relevance, so search engines and social media. That business grew 48 per cent year on year.âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚ÂÂ

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Tech stock Appen, which develops annotated datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence, soared 18 per cent to a fresh record after smashing earnings forecasts for its 2018 full-year profit, and delivering a big earnings upgrade for 2019.

 

The company, which was started by Julie and Chris Vonwiller in 2998 from the spare room of their Sydney home, is in a sweet spot of global technology.

 

The company uses speech and tech recognition technology to build datasets for a range of use cases, everything from chatbots, virtual assistances and translation systems, through to video search, internet search, social media, autonomous vehicles, facial recognition and even the slightly murky world of surveillance.

 

Appen's point of difference is that its data sets are annotated by humans, via a huge pool of temporary workers Appen has established around the globe.

 

There are two key parts of the business: The language resource division, where Appen provides speech recognition for big tech firms and governments (revenue here jumped 21 per cent); and the content relevance arm, which helps AI developers train their algorithms (revenue here jumped an impressive 148 per cent in 2018).

 

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, deprecation and amortisation jumped 153 per cent to $71.3 million; in 2019, EBITDA will hit $85 million to $90 million, well above what the market had expected.

 

This is the AI hype being turned into a real and very profitable Australian business.

 

One fascinating aspect of the business is that Appen appears to make few one-offs sales.

 

As chief executive Mark Brayan pointed out on Monday, AI works as it eats more and more data; a third of AI applications require monthly data updates, and one quarter of these need weekly updates. So customers need to keep coming back, and coming back.

 

Appen provides a graph that tracks how much revenue comes from customers it won in previous years. What's clear is that the biggest chunk still comes from clients that were on the books back in 2014.

 

With Appen now trading on a multiple of 44 times next year's earnings, there is a natural question as to how big this business becomes, and how much investors are willing to pay for growth.

 

In response, Brayan points to McKinsey research which has put the size of the global AI market at as much as $191 billion by 2021. The data-labelling market, where Appen plays, should be worth $17 billion to $19 billion......

https://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/globa...20190225-h1bom5
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Igrif - it's just a bad habit of mine digging into news/researching/etc while watching the markets :biggrin: I then post that info here in case anyone else is interested and also as a future reference for me. I don't really spend that much time on doing this though. Good to know someone is taking note. Thanks
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Some coverage by EthicalEquities - Appen Ltd (ASX:APX) Initiation Report and FY 2018 Full Year Results - note disclosure "holder of APX shares"

https://ethicalequities.com.au/blog/appen-l...l-year-results/

extract

Valuation considerations

 

Make no mistake: the current ~40x forward multiple is a premium multiple which very few ASX companies enjoy âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ which means a lot of earnings expectation is baked into Appenâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s share price and that any material underachievement versus market expectations could trigger a savage decrease in the share price.

 

High growth, relatively expensive companies like APX are also likely to be sold off during the marketâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“Risk Offâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚ phases âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ as occurred when Appexâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s share price declined by 35% between the end of August and the end of October last year; and these high growth companies are generally considerably more volatile than more stable Blue Chip companies (though try telling that to long-suffering shareholders of AMP, Telstra and the big four banks).

 

It must be noted, however, that not all companies are cut from the same cloth. Itâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s easy to compare APXâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s forward P/E multiple to other (especially more mature and non-growth) stocks and conclude that Appen is very expensive. While true prima facie (in the context that APX commands a higher multiple), this exercise ignores comparative growth rates between the companies. It is useful to use a PEG Ratio (which incorporates future growth rates) to make comparisons like this more meaningful, and personally Iâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢d rather own a company with a 40x forward P/E and a 20% EPS growth rate (PEG Ratio = 2) than a company on a 15 forward P/E and a 5% EPS growth rate (PEG Ratio = 3).

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  • 5 months later...

29th August 2019

APPEN DELIVERS AGAIN

Appen Limited (âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“Appenâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚ÂÂ) (ASX:APX) a global leader in the development of high-quality,

human annotated datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), has today

announced its First Half results for the half year ended 30th June 2019.

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Revenue up 60% to $245.1M

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Underlying EBITDA1 of $46.3M up 81%, statutory EBITDA up 48%

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Underlying EBITDA margins improved from 16.8% to 18.9%

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Underlying NPAT2 of $29.6M up 67%, statutory NPAT of $18.6M up 33%

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Momentum building for Speech and Image3

. Revenue for the half up 85% to

$39.9M, all from organic growth

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Relevance revenue of $193.7M4, up 48%, with margin expansion

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Leapforce now fully integrated

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Figure Eight delivering on the strategic thesis

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ The Companyâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s full year underlying EBITDA for the year ending Dec 31st, 2019

including Figure Eight is trending to the upper end of $85M - $90M (at A$1 =

US$0.74 Aug-Dec 2019)5

 

Market not too impressed - SP down 12.28% @ $24.01. Maybe it's because the market is down generally, or the partially franked dividend failed to impress. Could be something else buried in the report which I've not fully read

 

The Board has declared an interim dividend of 4.0c per share, partially franked in line with the same period last year.

 

https://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20190829/pdf/...zhq8j88qg7t.pdf

https://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20190829/pdf/...zh95bd6zn6s.pdf

https://www.shortman.com.au/stock?q=apx

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Appen Ltd (ASX: APX)

 

Last month this leading developer of high-quality, human annotated datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence was one of the worst performers on the S&P/ASX 200 index. Appenâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s shares appear to have been hit by a combination of profit-taking in the information technology sector and concerns over its Figure Eight business. This means its shares have lost a third of their value since peaking at $32.00 in July.

With long-term growth potential thanks to increasing demand for its services due to the proliferation of machine learning and artificial intelligence, has this created a buying opportunity for investors?

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FWIW - extract from recent article - opinion from Phil King of Regal Funds Management.

Why we still like Appen and Zip

"We still own Appen, because we think the valuation's very attractive. We're looking forward a few years, and I think that's fine. If a company has got a very strong market position, I feel comfortable looking forward a few years to see where that stock will be in a couple of years. There are other similar growth stocks out there as well. I think one reason that we've been very successful this year is that we've focused very heavily on small growth stocks.

 

We're very much in a low interest rate, low growth environment. If we can identify earnings growth, organic earnings growth before the market discovers it, then not only will we benefit from that EPS growth, but we'll get a strong rerating in that stock as well.

 

We've had a number of stocks double or triple this year as the market discovers the EPS growth and rerates them. I think a lot of stocks, as I said earlier, will go up heavily as they enter the index as well. That's something we're very focused on, stocks before they get too big or big enough to enter the index.

 

Well, investment is all about making forecasts. Making forecasts always involves a little bit of uncertainty, but I feel a lot more confident forecasting Appen's future cash flows than many cyclical stocks in Australia. I think stocks that rely on the economy for earnings growth can disappoint, and I think there have probably been more value traps in Australia over the last six months than I've seen in a long time.

 

Whereas something like Appen, if we do the research, explore the competitive landscape, if we talk to suppliers, if we talk to customers, we talk to management, we get very, very comfortable. They're in a very strong spot, and their growth is almost accelerating at the moment. They've established themselves as the go-to for their customers, and the main criticism they used to get was that they were too reliant on one or two customers. They've very much diversified their customer base.

 

A few years ago, they took out one of their large competitors, and I think they've very much established themselves as the go-to for their machine learning speciality, as well as speech recognition.

When we bought Zip it was on a valuation that was about 10% the size of Afterpay. As I've said, the first step in our process is valuation. We just thought all the hype was on Afterpay, and we thought people hadn't really discovered Zip.

 

We made a large investment in Zip and that's been very, very successful for us. That stock I think is up two or three times since we invested. We think in the buy now pay later space there'll probably be two or three winners. I think the merchants have an incentive to have more than just Afterpay on offer.

 

Just like most merchants accept two or three different credit cards, I think most merchants will accept two or three different buy now pay later providers. We think Afterpay and Zip will be certainly the two winners. We just prefer Zip on the valuation".

https://www.livewiremarkets.com/wires/phil-...were-in-the-gfc

 

Another stock that's come off recent highs - Mr King might be talking up his investment

Total short positions as at 1/11/19 = 1.27%

https://www.shortman.com.au/stock?q=apx

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