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THE REAL DEAL

Why Bill.com’s stock is soaring, while other IPOs sink

Bill.com
Bill.com meets the Big Board.
  • John Detrixhe
By John Detrixhe

Future of finance reporter

IPO judgment day hasn’t been kind to some tech companies this year, as the likes of Lyft, Uber, and Slack have sagged since braving the public markets. Bill.com’s listing, however, has been far more successful.

Shares of Bill.com, which provides cloud-based software for small and medium-size businesses, have soared more than 60% since the Palo Alto-based company listed on New York Stock Exchange last week. The company raised $347 million in venture capital via 11 funding rounds before it went public.

Bill.com provides invoicing and bill paying services for smaller firms, and its IPO came at a time when payment companies are highly coveted by investors. Accounting software providers like Intuit and Xero have also rallied in 2019. Bill.com uses AI to automate data entry and is chasing a substantial market opportunity, but has yet to turn a profit.

Bill.com’s other financial metrics have reached red-hot levels. Its price-to-sales ratio is more than double that of Adyen, a fast-growing payment company, as well Intuit. “The stock is indeed priced for extremely high growth,” said Sam McBride, an analyst at New Constructs.

At $37 a share, the company is priced for profit margins comparable to Intuit, a much bigger competitor, and for 25% compound annual revenue growth for the next 11 years, McBride said. He thinks it’s unlikely the 13-year-old company, still a smaller player in the sector, will achieve such lofty metrics. So, what explains the hefty valuation?

“It seems more plausible that the market is banking on an acquisition,” McBride said in an email. Indeed, René Lacerte, Bill.com’s founder and CEO, has form when it comes to dealmaking. He sold his previous company, PayCycle, to Intuit in 2009. Stock traders may be betting that the financial-software veteran repeats the trick again.

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