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While some companies such as Tesla are diversifying into bitcoin, data analytics software company Palantir is betting on gold. Palantir bought $50 million in gold bars in August, the company disclosed in its latest earnings statement.
The move reflects a growing company stashing cash in an unconventional asset in response to economic uncertainty spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and governments’ response to it.
The price of an ounce of gold crossed the $2,000 mark for the first time last year as the pandemic worsened and U.S. government stimulus efforts continued. This year investors have more loudly voiced concerns about inflation, and gold is sometimes viewed as a hedge against inflation, although prices are down 7% for the year. Some investors have thought cryptocurrencies might also serve that role.
“During August 2021, the Company purchased $50.7 million in 100-ounce gold bars,” Palantir said in the Aug. 12 earnings statement for its fiscal second quarter. “Such purchase will initially be kept in a secure third-party facility located in the northeastern United States and the Company is able to take physical possession of the gold bars stored at the facility at any time with reasonable notice.”
Palantir did not respond to a request for comment on the investment.
After completing a direct listing and debuting on the New York Stock Exchange in September, Palantir is now debt-free, the company’s finance chief, Dave Glazer, told analysts on a conference call last week. Revenue has accelerated for two consecutive quarters, with 20 new customers joining in the fiscal second quarter.
Palantir is investing to grow, bringing on more than 100 salespeople in the past two quarters, and plans call for hiring to continue at a fast pace, Glazer said.
The company remains unprofitable, as it was as a privately held company. Meanwhile, its supply of cash has been increasing, in part thanks to stock issuance and proceeds from the exercise of stock options.
That has given Palantir an opportunity to invest in its own customers, including early stage companies, which are very different from existing government customers such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among the investments are companies that have gone public through mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies, such as AdTheorent, Fast Radius, FinAccel and Tritium, according to the earnings statement.
It’s possible that following the gold investment, Palantir could expand into cryptocurrencies. In May, after Glazer was asked on an analyst call if the company could have bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies on its balance sheet, he said, “The short answer is, yes, we’re thinking about it, and we’ve even discussed internally.”