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3 Top AI Stocks to Buy in December

Motley Fool - Mon Dec 4, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) stole the show on Wall Street this year, and for good reason. There's an argument to be made that it's the most important technological breakthrough since the internet. Some analysts are projecting that this technology could add over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Given its huge potential to benefit businesses of all sorts, it's not surprising that plenty of investors are wisely looking to include AI stocks in their portfolios. But which are the best AI buys right now? Let's take a closer look at three AI stocks investors might want to consider buying in December.

1. UiPath

Software company UiPath(NYSE: PATH) isn't a name the everyday consumer will likely know. It sells robotic process automation (RPA) software to other businesses. These programs can monitor, develop, and deploy software automating repetitive tasks. For example, an RPA program can replace a human employee doing data entry on forms, and perform those repetitive tasks faster and more accurately.

There is a wide-open opportunity for automating repetitive tasks in the workplace. Specifically, UiPath is getting a lot of traction in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, and the public sector. It has partnered with key vendors like Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) AWS and SAP, the leader in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. That way, its programs play nicely with existing software. The company is doing $1.3 billion in annualized revenue and sports a strong 120% net revenue retention rate. That means its established customers are increasing their spending with the company over time.

Importantly, UiPath is profitable. Analysts believe the company's 2023 earnings per share (EPS) will come in around $0.40 and grow by an average of 46% annually over the next several years. At a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 49, that's a very attractive valuation for the growth you could see.

2. SentinelOne

Cybersecurity is mission-critical to companies today. Hacks and breaches can derail a business, expose sensitive data, and cost millions of dollars in damages. But the threats have grown more complex. Installing an antivirus program no longer cuts it. SentinelOne(NYSE: S) is part of a new generation of security providers. Its Singularity Platform uses AI to hunt for threats at endpoints (devices connected to a network) and across cloud-based workloads. That means it's proactive, seeking out risks instead of waiting for something to go wrong.

SentinelOne competes in a crowded field, but its product quality could be advantageous. It routinely scores well in third-party ratings like Gartner's Magic Quadrant for endpoint protection and the MITRE Att&ck Evaluation. Fortune Business Insights has forecast that the global cybersecurity market will grow from $153 billion to $425 billion by 2030. Considering that SentinelOne's revenue over the past 12 months was just $524 million, the company could grow for years.

SentinelOne is investing everything it can in pursuit of that growth right now, so it's not profitable. However, its price-to-sales ratio (P/S) of 10 is a fraction of its peak ratio of 106. SentinelOne is also well funded. It has $731 million in cash and short-term investments and zero debt on the balance sheet and burned just $15 million last quarter. That financial foundation should buy investors time to enjoy SentinelOne's growth while it steadily works toward turning profits.

3. Amazon

E-commerce is what most people associate Amazon with, but the company has a lot going on beyond that -- AI technology included. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform has the leading market share worldwide, meaning a solid chunk of the internet runs on it. That makes AWS perfect for Amazon to develop and distribute AI services to its existing customers. Amazon already offers AI services through AWS, including computer vision, language AI, and data analysis.

Amazon is also working intensely on developing computer chips to train AI models, which requires tremendous computing power. There's fierce competition among Amazon and its cloud competitors, Microsoft and Alphabet. The AI landscape could take a while to settle, but investors can do well with Amazon because it's such a diverse business. AI is important to it, but Amazon offers thriving e-commerce, cloud, advertising, and streaming segments with long-term growth potential.

The stock is attractively priced despite its strong price appreciation this year (it's up more than 70% since January). Investors could consider valuing Amazon on its operating profits because its heavy investments in the business can skew reported income numbers. Today, Amazon trades at just 21 times its operating cash flow, well below its average of 28 over the past decade. I wouldn't call Amazon a bargain after its 2023 run, but long-term investors still have time to hop on the train.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Justin Pope has positions in SentinelOne. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and UiPath. The Motley Fool recommends Gartner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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