Virgin Galactic reports greater-than-expected quarterly loss, shares slide


Virgin Galactic leaders in front of the New York Stock Exchange, from left: CEO George Whitesides, founder Richard Branson and Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic reported fourth-quarter results after the market closed on Tuesday that showed a larger loss than Wall Street expected.

Shares of Virgin Galactic dropped about 3% in after-hours trading from its close at $34.04. The stock slipped 0.7% on Tuesday, although it earlier climbed as much as 8% while fueled by more speculative trading.

The company also announced that on Wednesday it will begin accepting $1,000 deposits toward space flight tickets. Those who pay the fully-refundable deposit will be the first offered reservations when Virgin Galactic re-opens ticket sales later this year.

Expectations vs. results

Virgin Galactic reported an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) loss of $55 million, more than the $46.9 million loss expected according to analysts surveyed by FactSet. EBITDA is an accounting measure of the company’s total financial performance, although it typically excludes some costs such as capital investments.

The company reported just $529,000 of revenue for the fourth-quarter, below the $800,000 of revenue in its previous quarter.

The company aims to be profitable by 2021.

Virgin Galactic’s market value has soared to about $7 billion since its October debut on the New York Stock Exchange, multiplying several times over in the past few months.

The company has 603 reservations on its books, for most tickets ranging in price from $200,000 to $250,000. Additionally, Virgin Galactic tracks “expression of interest” from potential customers since its successful test flights about a year ago. The company reported more than 3,500 such “expressions of interest” when it announced third quarter results in November.

Virgin Galactic has received more than $1 billion of investment since its founding in 2004.

Last year, during its investor roadshow, Virgin Galactic projected it would fly 66 passengers to space on 16 flights in 2020. Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya told CNBC in November that he expects Virgin Galactic to begin commercial operations in the middle of this year.

Virgin Galactic earlier this month relocated its spacecraft to its operating base in New Mexico from its development facility in California.

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