Waiting for Godot: Even as Blue Origin is finally about to announce the start of commercial ticket sales for its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, Virgin Galactic has delayed release of its first quarter earnings report so that it will be released after, not before, that Blue Origin announcement.
Virgin Galactic claims the six day delay is in order to adjust numbers due to a new SEC requirement announced in mid-April. However, placing it after Blue Origin’s announcement instead of just the day before minimizes what would have been a very ugly-looking public relations disaster.
Whatever the actual reason for the delay, the prospect of delivering yet another dismal earnings report only hours before Blue Origin’s announcement could not have been an attractive one for Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier and new CFO Doug Ahrens. The quarterly earnings call is a major opportunity to influence Wall Street analysts who make recommendations on whether to buy or sell the company’s stock.
Virgin Galactic is expected to report a significant loss with minimal or no revenues as it struggles to complete the flight test program for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic’s net lost was $273 million for 2020, including a $74 million net loss for the fourth quarter.
Virgin Galactic’s stock has been taking a pounding lately. After opening at $10.75 on the first day of trading on Oct. 28, 2019, the stock soared to a high of $62.80. It is now trading at $22.15, having lost all of its gains for the year.
That both Richard Branson, the company’s founder, and Chamath Palihapitiya, the big investor when the company went public, have both sold off large portions of their stock in the past few months has also contributed to the bad press. Both took advantage of the high stock prices and apparently got out when the getting was good.
I fully expect this company to fail in the next year or two. If it doesn’t it surely will never achieve any of the many grandiose promises put forth by Branson for almost two decades.
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