Why has the Appen (ASX:APX) share price leapt 18% in a week?

Why are Appen shares back in the hot box this week?

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has enjoyed a bumper session over the past week or so. Since market close last Wednesday, the ASX 200 has managed to add a very healthy 2.22%. Bt one ASX 200 share has run laps around even that esteemed performance. That would be the Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) share price.

Appen shares are today (at the time of writing) trading at $10.36 each. Yet, last Wednesday, this company closed at a price of $8.78. That means that, over the past trading week, the Appen share price has enjoyed an eye-watering gain of 17.99%. Additionally, Appen is now almost 25% up from this 52-week low that we saw earlier this month.

This would no doubt be a very welcome change for shareholders of this annotated dataset provider. Even after this impressive run of good performance, Appen shares remain down a nasty 59.38% year to date in 2021. Appen is also down 71.77% over the past 12 months, and down close to 74% from its all-time high of roughly $40 a share that we saw in August 2020.

So what’s turned the ship of sentiment around for Appen, a former WAAAX ASX growth darling?

Why has the Appen share price exploded higher in the last week?

Well, there hasn’t been much in the way of news or announcements out of Appen for a while now, so we can probably rule that out. Its last notable ASX notice was about the acquisition of Quadrant Global back in mid-September.

So it’s probable that investors have decided Appen shares had just become too cheap to ignore. This thesis is supported by a few recent fundie and broker recommendations.

Last week, my Fool colleague James covered how broker Citi retained its buy rating on Appen shares, with a 12-month share price target of $17. That implies a future potential upside of more than 60% over just the next 12 months.

Earlier this week, my Fool colleague Tony covered Switzer Financial Group founder Peter Switzer’s view on Appen. Mr Switzer reckons Appen is “really well-positioned for the future of business, because it’s in artificial intelligence, it’s in machine learning.”

Switzer is estimating that Appen’s performance will improve “when business gets back to normal,” and pointed to the fact that four brokers he follows (including Citi) are rating Appen with price targets well above the current share price.

No doubt shareholders will be sharing in this optimism.

At the current Appen share price of $10.36, this company has a market capitalisation of $1.26 billion, a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 33.96 and a dividend yield of 0.97%.

Should you invest $1,000 in Appen right now?

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Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended Appen Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Appen Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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