Aerospace & Defense

Why Virgin Galactic's Stock Could Still Double

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) has seen its share of excitement and volatility. After all, who wouldn’t be excited about being able to buy a ticket to be one of the first private citizens to get to go into space and come back to tell about it?

The team at BofA Securities issued a new Buy rating on Monday, and the firm went out with a $35 price objective that was far more aggressive than the $25.33 consensus analyst target price. In fact, this $35 target appears to be a street-high target.

Accord to analyst Ronald Epstein, Virgin Galactic is currently set to begin serving customers in early 2021. The analyst sees its growth potential as unparalleled. He also sees Virgin Galactic’s nascent stage offering a unique entry point for investors who might have felt that they missed the boat (or the launch) as this went from a special purpose acquisition company into a full-blown space tourism company.

The stock even went into the $30s earlier this year, and there were trades above $40 a share for a brief period. Then came COVID-19 and the recession, and Virgin Galactic’s stock bottomed out close to $10 again in March. If there is one expense that would absolutely define luxury and adventure, being one of the few private citizens who can claim to have taken a quick trip into space would be top of the list.

BofA’s Epstein also noted that Virgin Galactic effectively has no operating competition and it comes with an experienced management team.

While Virgin Galactic’s vertical integration capabilities are unparalleled and while it also controls the vast majority of the design and building of its aircraft and spacecraft, the business is not without risk. Epstein points out that a fatal accident, even if it is unlikely, could compromise its business model. Also worth noting in the risks is that Virgin Galactic has only flown the full mission into space two times.

Epstein’s investment rationale says this:

Unlike airlines or even commercial aircraft OEMs, Virgin Galactic plans to operate commercially and has nearly full vertical integration capabilities in structures, assembly, propulsion, and avionics. While Virgin Galactic is not yet operational, the company is gearing up to begin serving customers in early 2021. We view Virgin Galactic’s growth potential to be unparalleled versus our coverage and believe the current nascent stages of the company provide investors with a unique entry point into the stock.

As for the bearish case under a fatal accident, the scenario is unlikely but does not come with a 0% probability. If that were to occur, it would push Virgin Galactic’s timelines out much farther for certain milestones. Epstein also notes that the bearish case would require the company to survive only on the strength of its balance sheet for some time.

On a positive but more tempered research view, Susquehanna also initiated coverage with a Buy rating. The key difference was that the $20 target, compared with Friday’s 3.2% gain to $16.43.

24/7 Wall St. always issues the same reminder and caveat about analyst calls. No single analyst call should ever be used as a sole reason to buy or sell a stock. This certainly would need to be considered when the underlying research call has the highest analyst price target of all other sell-side firms.

Virgin Galactic shares had been indicated up over 9% at $18.00 in Monday’s premarket, but the gain was nearly 20% at $19.60 in midday trading.

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