Why Virgin Galactic Stock (SPCE) Is Taking Off After Earnings

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Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) sent its first fully crewed flight to the edge of space in July 2021, sending its stock price to a level never seen again. Not even close. The all-time high of more than $60 for the space tourism company had been posted earlier that year when Virgin Galactic stock was included in the mosh pit of the meme stock craze.

At Wednesday’s closing bell, ‌shares were down 10.3% for the day at $1.56. Then Virgin Galactic reported quarterly earnings.

Third-quarter surprises

Virgin Galactic reported third-quarter revenue of $1.7 million, more than 60% above the consensus estimate and more than double the revenue of $800,000 reported for the year-ago quarter. Instead of an expected loss per share of $0.42, Virgin Galactic posted a loss per share of $0.28, 33% better than expected.

Between May and early November, the company completed six space flights, five of which had paying customers who coughed up $200,000 to $250,000 each for a flight that lasted about 15 minutes and reached an altitude of around 50 to 55 miles above ‌Earth.

The company closed out the third quarter with cash and other liquid assets totaling $1.1 billion, a sequential increase of $108 million. CEO Michael Colglazier said that was enough cash to bring Virgin Galactic’s new Delta-class spaceplane into service in 2026 and, at the same time, achieve a positive cash flow.

Another surprise was the company’s announcement that it plans to fire about 185 employees, around 18% of its total workforce. The company expects to save $25 million annually and plans to use the money “to strategically realign its resources.”

Virgin Galactic’s outlook

The company expects fourth-quarter revenue of approximately $3 million, nearly double the third-quarter total. Virgin Galactic also forecast negative free cash flow of $125 to $135 million. That’s worse than the $105 million in negative free cash reported for the third quarter.

Consensus estimates made before Wednesday’s report included fourth-quarter revenue of $1.49 million and an adjusted loss per share of $0.44. Those numbers will certainly be revised in the coming days.

Is there more upside to space tourism?

In an August interview with SpaceNews, Colglazier said that Virgin Galactic had sold its first 800 tickets to space tourists for between $200,000 and $250,000 each. The price has since been doubled to $450,000.

Each flight can accommodate 4 passengers, but the company reserves one seat for an astronaut trainer. Colglazier expects to fill that seat with a paying passenger sometime next year. Research customers, for whom the company has reserved about 100 of its first 1,000 seats, pay $600,000 for a ticket.

Ticket sales have stopped ticket sales except through travel agency Virtuoso. As the 2026 launch date for ‌Delta-class spaceplanes approaches, ticket sales will resume. Colglazier said he doesn’t expect ‌ticket prices to be less than $450,000.

Shares of Virgin Galactic stock traded up by around 30% at around $2.00 shortly after Thursday’s opening bell. The stock’s 52-week range is $1.38 to $6.61. The average 12-month price target on the stock from 10 analysts is currently $4.38.

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