C3.ai stock rockets as CEO Siebel touts ‘dramatic change’ in sentiment amid AI hype

Shares of C3.ai Inc. were surging 14% in after-hours action Thursday after the software company, which deals in enterprise artificial intelligence, issued an upbeat forecast and cited “substantially improving” market sentiment.

“As we enter into our fourth quarter, we are seeing tailwinds from improved business optimism and increased interest in applying C3.ai
solutions to address an increasing range of applications across a broadening set of industries,” Chief Executive Thomas Siebel said on the company’s earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript. “This is a dramatic change from what we experienced in mid-2022.”

He added that “there is a genuine optimism in the marketplace for our solutions, and the overall business sentiment appears to be substantially improving.”

Siebel noted that the quarter helped validate C3.ai’s transition to a consumption-based pricing model, commenting that the reaction “from partners and prospects has been uniformly enthusiastic.”

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For the fiscal fourth quarter, management at C3.ai expects $70 million to $72 million in revenue. The FactSet consensus was for $69.9 million. Executives also anticipate a $24 million to $28 million adjusted loss from operations.

Shares of the company have shot up 90% so far this year amid heated Wall Street interest in artificial intelligence, fueled by the popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, which falls into the category of generative AI.

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“The recent explosion of innovation and availability of large language models and in generative pre-trained transformers are also immediately compatible with the C3.ai platform, enabling us to increase the utility of our platform and our applications,” Siebel said on the earnings call. “We believe the importance of the ongoing developments in generative AI is difficult to overestimate.”

While ChatGPT is a chatbot, Siebel also sees big opportunity in generative AI as it relates to enterprise search.

“The addressable market is huge,” he added on the earnings call. “Business is strong. Customers are happy. Our workforce is highly productive and the future is bright.”

Siebel said in the earnings release that C3.ai remains on track to become “cash positive and non-GAAP profitable” by the end of fiscal 2024.

The company on Thursday reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $63.2 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with a loss of $39.5 million, or 38 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. On an adjusted basis, C3.ai lost 6 cents a share, whereas analysts tracked by FactSet were expecting a 22-cent adjusted loss per share.

C3.ai’s revenue declined to $66.7 million from $69.8 million but exceeded the consensus view, which was for $64.2 million.

The company posted a customer count of 236.

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