Virgin Galactic Stock Is Soaring. The Space Ships Will Take Flight.

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Virgin Spaceship Unity and Virgin Mothership Eve.

Courtesy Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Holdings

stock has gone through a rough patch of weather in recent weeks that has investors reaching for airsickness bags. But a Thursday announcement had shares soaring: Flight testing is about to resume.

Virgin Galactic (ticker: SPCE) stock rose 14.7% in Thursday trading, to $19.81 a share. The

S&P 500

gained 1.1% and the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 0.6%.

The jump, however, still leaves the stock down roughly 70% from its 52-week intraday high of $62.80 set back in February.

Virgin Galactic stock is down along with many other more-speculative stocks. The

Defiance Next Gen SPAC Derived

exchange-traded fund (SPAK), for instance, is down about 32% from a 52-week high set in February. Virgin Galactic is in that ETF and completed its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in October 2019.

But the decline in Virgin Galactic stock can’t be blamed only the market. The company has had some trouble with its test flights, which need to be completed before the company can begin commercial operations and generate sales.

Virgin Galactic management disclosed problems with electromagnetic interference and flight-control systems in late February on its fourth-quarter earnings conference call, delaying test flights. Then, on the company’s May 10 first-quarter-earnings conference call, management disclosed a new issue related to parts wearing out, delaying testing again.

Management had committed to an update, and on Thursday it announced the test flight would happen May 22, if the weather allows.

Commercial flights will require more tests, and the next will be scheduled after data from May 22 is fully analyzed.

It’s taking longer than management wanted to start commercial operations. Virgin Galactic, back in 2019, projected $210 million in sales for 2021. Analysts are now projecting $3.2 million.

Virgin Galactic is trying to take civilians into orbit, and a spacewalk is no cakewalk. It’s a new business, and some delays might have been expected, but the severity of the holdups has clearly hurt the stock. Investors hope that a resumption of testing can help shares recapture some of their previous momentum.

Write to Al Root at [email protected]

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