Virgin Galactic’s stock could soar 726%, Morgan Stanley says

Virgin Galactic’s stock is soaring after an analyst said its space planes could one day disrupt the air travel industry, potentially raking in nearly a trillion dollars a year in sales.

The spaceflight’s company stock surged 12% Monday after Morgan Stanley released a report predicting Virgin Galactic’s shares could rise as high as $60 over the coming years if the company successfully executes its business goals. The stock was sitting just below $8 before the report was released.

Galactic wants to transition from a space tourism company (it has still yet to fly any civilians into space, but it plans to soon) into a travel company. It intends to accomplish that by building space planes that send passengers on ultra-fast flights around the world.

“A viable space tourism business is what you pay for today,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note to investors. “But a chance to disrupt the multi-trillion-dollar airline [total addressable market] is what is really likely to drive the upside.”

Galactic’s stock had persistently fallen since it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on October 28. Morgan Stanley set a near-term price target of $22 a share, which represents a 167% increase from Galactic’s current level of $8.24. The firm believes the majority of Galactic’s upside will come from its hypersonic point-to-point air travel rather than its space tourism business.

“The shares feature biotech-type risk/reward where today’s space tourism business serves as a funding strategy and innovation catalyst to incubate enabling tech for the hypersonic point-to-point air travel opportunity,” Jonas said.

Morgan Stanley isn’t alone in its bullish outlook for Galactic. Sam Korus, an industrial innovation analyst at ARK Invest, said last month he was excited about Galactic’s potential line of business. His research indicates as many as 2.7 million people might be willing to pay up to $100,000 for a long-distance hypersonic flight that shaves hours off the normal travel time.

The company has long talked about conducting long-distance flights, and Boeing in October invested $20 million in the company in a deal focused largely on aiding development of hypersonic transit.

Galactic, which is the world’s first publicly traded space-tourism company, reported in its inaugural earnings last month that it lost $138 million in the first nine months of 2019. By far its largest expense — nearly $100 million — went to research and development.

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