Take your pick of metaphors – rocketing, earth shattering, stratospheric - Virgin Galactic stock has been surging this year, up more than 200%. The Mojave-based company now has a market capitalization of $7.2 billion even though it only generated $3 million in revenue last year.
Why all the excitement? No one seems to know, including Morgan Stanley, which issued a research note Thursday expressing bewilderment.
"We do struggle to identify significant thesis changing/accelerating events since the time of our initiation in early December of 2019," wrote analyst Adam Jonas in a note titled "Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth."
Jonas said he was surprised by the volume and volatility of the stock and he urged investors to be cautious. "A modest correction is overdue, and frankly, healthy," he wrote.
Investors did not seem phased by the warning, however, as the stock was nearly flat in Thursday's trading session after the note was published, though it dropped nearly 10% in after-hours trading. The stock closed Thursday at $37.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Virgin Galactic became the first publicly traded commercial space tourism company in October, going through a reverse merger.
The company's two competitors, Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, are privately held. Blue Origin, headquartered near Seattle is funded almost entirely by the Amazon CEO while Hawthorne-based SpaceX is VC and debt funded. The company, which is now valued at over $33 billion, got its latest financing from an $800 million Revolver facility from Bank of America in December.
Virgin Galactic will report earnings for only the second time as a public company on Feb. 25
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