Counting the Risks for IonQ and Quantum Computing Technology

Investing is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get — a top-line from the movie Forrest Gump. The actual phrase was about life, but investing is a part of life. IonQ (NYSE:IONQ) went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deal with dMY Technology Group. It is the first publicly traded quantum computing firm and its goals are high but its risks might be higher.

A concept image of a processor representing quantum computing.

Source: Amin Van /

2021 has been a year full of trends for investors. There was all kinds of excitement and drama, as well as new questions posed as to what matters in investing. Such as the power of retail investors to move stocks defying the fundamentals and causing new trends to emerge. One such new cutting-edge trend to the investing world is quantum computing. And IonQ is developing and commercializing this innovative technology, and claims that this is the future.

So, what should you know about IONQ stock now?

IonQ: A Bold Mission, Will It Work?

This first publicly traded purely quantum computing company has a mission to achieve significant things, from building the world’s best quantum computers, to solving the world’s most complex problems. Its quantum computing systems can solve complicated problems, using quantum physics, much faster compared to classical computers.

First, a small bit of quantum computing 101. Quantum computing uses “qubits,” quantum bits, rather than the classic bits, where each bit in classical computing has a value of either zero or one. Qubits can have a value of zero, one, or a linear combination of them. This “superposition” state allows quantum computers to bypass many of the traditional limits seen in classical computers. This in turn, gives them significant advantages over their classical counterparts.

There are plenty of applications where quantum computing can be helpful, cybersecurity, financial modeling, artificial intelligence, medicine research, even predicting the weather. There is just a lot of potential utility for quantum computing development.

However, this potential utility though comes with severe risks and challenges.

Some Problems With Quantum Computers

Quantum computers have several notable problems. As with any revolutionary technology, there are specific challenges and hurdles until its infancy period passes.

These main problems for quantum computers are both structural and operational. They can be simply summarized as hard to engineer, construct and program to run without any significant errors.

Another big problem currently for quantum computers is their price — they are far more expensive than the classical computers that persons and businesses use for performing various tasks.

However, the biggest problem faced by quantum computers is a loss of coherence when making quantum calculations (aka decoherence). Decoherence means that these highly advanced computers are subject to factors such as vibrations, the temperature of their working environment, and any electromagnetic waves, making them operate less efficiently than they are built-in for.

Simply speaking, they’re extremely delicate.

Thus, the cost of competitiveness and innovation is incredibly high, and at this moment, makes it difficult to evaluate.

Quantum Computing Market: Very High Growth Until 2027

The market of any company it operates in, and its sector dynamics are of paramount importance for its financial performance and business excellence. The quantum computing market is expected to grow to $8.6 billion in 2027, from only $412 million in 2020. That is a compound annual growth rate of 50.9% for these six years.

IonQ defines itself as a leader in quantum computing. However, there are several factors that raise concerns about its stock now. There are at least four main fundamental worries I want to mention.

IONQ Stock Needs Revenue

To start, IonQ in its third-quarter 2021 financial results reported a revenue of a measly $451,00 year-to-date. For a company with a market capitalization of $4 billion as of Dec. 9, the revenue reported is not only meaningless, but reinforces how expensive IONQ stock is now.

Second, I consider the total contract value (TCV) bookings of $15.1 million year-to-date, also not substantial.

Third, IonQ is an unprofitable company with widening losses in Q3 2021 compared to the second quarter of 2021. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2021 IonQ reported a net loss of $32,102,000, whereas for Q2 2020 the net loss was about a third of it, $10,493,000.

Fourth, IonQ’s research and development, sales, and marketing costs rose significantly in Q3 2021 and as a result, the loss from operations was wider than in Q2 2020. The company’s operational losses in Q3 2021 were $10,524,000, compared to a loss of $3,576,000 in Q2 2020.

The Bottom Line on IONQ Stock

I see no significant revenue, and yet, IONQ stock has an incredibly high market capitalization. With net losses widening, and operating expenses increasing, this quantum computing firm has not yet made its commercialization that effective.

IONQ stock is a very high-risk play right now. IonQ is a firm with a technology that may seem revolutionary, but the expectations for high growth do not reflect a strong case in favor based on its fundamentals.

On the date of publication, Stavros Georgiadis, CFA did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Stavros Georgiadis is a CFA charter holder, an Equity Research Analyst, and an Economist. He focuses on U.S. stocks and has his own stock market blog at He has written in the past various articles for other publications and can be reached on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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