Virgin Galactic soars 19% to record level after company moves spacecraft to New Mexico (SPCE)


virgin richard bransonSteven counts for Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is one step closer to takeoff.

On Friday, the aerospace company's share price jumped 19% to a historic high of $ 28.23 per share, closing five consecutive days of gains.

Virgin Galactic announced Thursday that it had moved its SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, from Mojave, California, to its commercial headquarters at the Spaceport America’s Gateway to Space building in New Mexico.

The move of the spacecraft is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as the VSS Unity will ultimately shuttle paying customers to and from space from Spaceport America facilities, the company said. In early 2020, it set itself the goal of sending its founder, Sir Richard Branson, into space this year for the 70th anniversary, CEO George Whitesides told CNBC.

Virgin Galactic's share has more than doubled so far in 2020, fueled in part by bullish ratings from Wall Street companies who advised investors to buy stocks, citing the company's short-term travel monopoly in space and compare it to Tesla.

That hasn't stopped short sellers from paying $ 388 million in bets against Virgin Galactic, about 31 percent of the company's float, Bloomberg reported, citing data from financial analyst firm S3 Partners. Short sellers have lost $ 214 million in mark-to-market losses since November, including a $ 10 million loss on Friday's higher shares, the report said.

As of September 30, Virgin Galactic had a waiting list with more than 600 people from 60 countries registered to take a space tourism flight. Each ticket costs approximately $ 250,000, adding up to $ 80 million in collected deposits and $ 120 million in potential revenue, Virgin Galactic confirmed in its third quarter earnings report.

Virgin Galactic became the first publicly traded space tourism stock on the market in October when it began trading under the symbol SPCE. Its main competitors are Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, and SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk.

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