Friday, 3 November 2023

Why Virgin Galactic Stock Rocketed 10% on Thursday

by Rose White

Shares of space tourism pioneer Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) stock took off like — what else? — a rocket on Wednesday, rising 10.7% through 12:10 p.m. ET after the company completed its sixth crewed almost-spaceflight in six months.

Details on Galactic 05

Virgin Galactic flight Galactic 05 (so-named because it was the fifth flight with paying passengers aboard) launched at 11 a.m. ET on the dot this morning, detaching its VSS Unity spacecraft from the VMS Eve “mothership” about five minutes before noon. By 12:10, the three paying space tourists aboard had touched down safely back at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The company hasn’t put out its official wrapping-up press release yet, but by all indications, the flight went exactly as planned — another feather in Virgin’s cap, another mission on its books…and another $750,000 or so in its bank account.

What it means for Virgin Galactic investors

Admittedly, even $750,000 isn’t a lot of money for a company that continues to burn through about $150 million a quarter in operating costs — and spends $250,000 just to replace the engine after each flight. Virgin Galactic remains a long way from profitability. In fact, most analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence don’t see any chance of Virgin Galactic becoming profitable before 2027 at the earliest (and after crunching the numbers, I’d argue it could take even longer than that).

That being said, investors today can still take encouragement from the fact that Virgin Galactic promised to maintain a flight cadence of about one space tourism launch per month, and for the last six months, it’s delivered on that promise.

It’s not quite as good as earning a profit on those spaceflights, perhaps. But it’s a start.

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Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.