$42 billion Palantir’s new $90 million contract to help with safety at America’s nuclear weapons branch is key to a crucial initiative to expand its business beyond defense contracts (PLTR)

Alex Karp

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The secretive big data company Palantir, which went public in September, announced a new contract with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) — which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile — worth $89.9 million over up to five years. Shares of the company are currently worth $23, down some 2% since January.

Under the new contract, finalized last week, the Denver-based Palantir will supply data analysis software for the department’s enterprise-wide Safety Analytics, Forecasting and Evaluating Reporting (SAFER) project. 

According to a 2018 document outlining the initiative, the government’s nuclear branch aims to turn its “vast of amounts of data into actionable insights for NNSA decision makers” around safety and executing its mission. NNSA manages over 400 nuclear and hazardous facilities and 39,000 laboratory and plant employees.

A Palantir spokesperson declined to comment on the contract and its federal business. 

While Palantir is best known for its much-scrutinized work with defense and intelligence agencies — including taking over the controversial Project Maven AI contract following employee protests at Google — the company has long held that it’s useful in other scenarios. Indeed, its long-term success may depend on it. Wall Street has said Palantir needs to diversify its revenues beyond defense contracts alone, and expand into new areas of government and within enterprises to stabilize its business.

While the $90 million contract represents only a small piece against the $1.1 billion it booked in annual revenue last year, analysts say it shows a new aggressiveness in expanding beyond its bread-and-butter in defense, and going after federal IT dollars. The company’s stock jumped 6% after the NNSA deal was announced on Monday, giving the company a market cap of some $42 billion at the time of publication.

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“Palantir is the gold standard from a data security and platform perspective,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Insider. “Getting a deal such as this on the nuclear front, it just further emboldens their position within the federal circle.”

Palantir is looking to get more federal IT dollars

Palantir said in a press release that the contract is its first with the Department of Energy, but the data mining company is also looking elsewhere for more federal dollars.

Chris Cornillie, a federal technology market analyst at Bloomberg Government, told Insider that the contract was validation that Palantir’s tools are “flexible enough to ingest safety data from the Department of Energy, as well as intelligence data or the kind of work it does for the Defense Department.”

That flexibility is apparently becoming a selling point: Palantir earned $263 million in federal contracts in fiscal year 2020, up from $162.5 million the year before, according to figures from USASpending.gov. While over half of its total federal dollars come from the Defense Department, Palantir earned slightly more from its Department of Health and Human Services deals than those from the Pentagon over the past 12 months.

It’s partly because the pandemic was good for the data business: In December, Palantir won a

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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