5 min read

Virgin Galactic falls flat while Rocket Lab prepares next quarter earnings for liftoff

While Richard Branson’ crew are flying paying passengers to the edge of the Earth, Rocket Lab has launched a mission to find out what’s melting the ice caps. The news comes hot on the heels of Rocket’s Lab’s Q2 earnings where they raised the stakes for the upcoming quarter, expecting double-digit liftoff.
Risk, returns & timeframes illustration
August 15, 2023
Belinda Nash

Richard Branson’s first ‘starstruck’ space tourism mission doesn’t land investors. Nearly four months after SpaceX Starship’s four-minute long liftoff - hailed a victory despite its explosive display - last week a mother-daughter duo joined the first Virgin’s Galactic 02 commercial space flight to the mesosphere. The successful return trip, which was decades in the making, didn’t turbo-boost Virgin Galactic’s (SPCE) share price however, with shares dropping nearly 9% down to Earth following the news, not helping their year-to-date (YTD) performance, which is down nearly 10%. 🌏

In a space lab closer to home. Kiwi-founded Rocket Lab (RKLB) announced yesterday a new climate change research mission with NASA, to launch reusable Electron from Māhia Peninsula

 - which had three successful missions last quarter. Electron will deploy small satellites to Earth’s orbit to understand how much of Earth’s heat is ‘lost to space’, in particular, from the Arctic and Antarctica’.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said climate change is hugely urgent. ⏳ He added that this mission is exactly why Rocket Lab was created, ‘to open up access to space to improve life on Earth’.  

The news comes after last Tuesday’s Rocket Lab second quarter (Q2) earnings reporting, which largely met Wall Street expectations:

  • Revenue growth: up 12% from a year ago to US$62 million, which is slightly higher than the US$61.8 million expected
  • Net loss: US$45.9 million, or 10 cents per share, compared to analyst expectations of 9 cents 

Sonic boom. 🥏 But it’s Rocket Lab’s double-digit Q3 revenue expectations, from their ‘booming’ orbital launch and satellite and spacecraft manufacturing services, that’s drawing comparisons to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. This, along with Beck announcing Rocket Lab’s signed ‘multiple new launch contracts’ with both new and returning customers, which they expect to boost the space exploration company's Q3 earnings:

  • Q2 Launch Services: generated revenue of US$22.5 million and is expected to climb to US$30 million in Q3 - expected growth of 33%
  • Q2 Space Systems: grew US$39.6 million in sales with a Q3 target set to reach between US$43 million to US$47 million - expected growth of between 8.5% and 18.6%.

A soaring Kiwi? 🪶 Since reporting, Rocket Lab, with a market cap of US$3 billion, lifted 3% after hours trading but dropped down to remain steady sitting around US$6.30 throughout the week. According to CNBC’s Michael Sheetz, the space pure play company is in with a chance to top the 2023 poll as the breakout space stock against other contenders:

  • Telesat (TSAT) which is going supersonic with a 64% YTD performance
  • Rocket Lab (RKLB) has soared 63% YTD
  • Redwire (RDW) has taken off with a 55% YTD
  • Mynaric (MYNA) lifted nearly 29% YTD
  • BlackSky (BKSY) is pulling away from gravity - just - up nearly 2%

Weighted 15th in ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF (ARKX) holdings - one behind Amazon (AMZN) - Rocket Lab represents just 2.22% of the exchange traded fund. Yet, with or without Rocket Lab’s successful missions, ARKX has achieved YTD liftoff of 19%. But - like Starlink satellites dropping from orbit - the fund is down nearly 30% since its March 2021 Nasdaq debut.

Once in a blue moon. 🔵

Meanwhile, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin employees are commanded to rocket back to their desks in a new work-from-work policy, the aerospace company gained a milestone contract this May to build a moon lander to usher in what NASA’s Bill Nelson has called the ‘golden age of human spaceflight’. This follows last year’s rocket deal with Amazon (AMZN) for Project Kuiper and a July announcement to invest US$120 million to build a launch facility at NASA’s Florida Kennedy Space Center. 

A satellite space race battle of the billionaires. 🛰️ Going ‘head-to-head’ (or, a copy 🐈?) with Elon Musk’s Starlink, Project Kuiper is set to launch more than 3,200 low Earth orbit satellites to build the tech giant’s global satellite internet service, aiming to launch at the end of 2024.

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We’re not financial advisors and Hatch news is for your information only. However dazzling our writing, none of it is a recommendation to invest in any of the companies or funds mentioned. If you want support before making any investment decisions, consider seeking financial advice from a licensed provider. We’ve done our best to ensure all information is current when we pushed ‘publish’ on this article. And of course, with investing, your money isn’t guaranteed to grow and there’s always a risk you might lose money.

Belinda Nash
Finance writer

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