Virgin Galactic stock falls below debut price two years after going public

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Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and his crew, lands after reaching the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S., July 11, 2021.
Joe Skipper | Reuters

Shares of space tourism company Virgin Galactic fell below $11.75 in trading on Thursday, bringing it beneath the level the stock debuted at more than two years ago.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic went public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC) from Chamath Palihapitiya in October 2019. The stock has experienced volatile, speculative trading since then – falling near $7 a share in the months after its debut and climbing as high as $62.80 a share in February 2021.

While the space tourism company said during its debut that it planned to begin flying customers in 2020, delays to its spacecraft testing and development have steadily pushed that schedule back. After launching Branson and three other company employees on a test spaceflight in July 2021, further delays have pushed Virgin Galactic’s beginning of commercial service to late this year.

The company is pre-revenue and loses about $55 million to $65 million per quarter on an adjusted EBITDA basis.

Virgin Galactic stock tumbled to a 52-week low of $11.30 on Thursday morning before curtailing its losses.

Notably, Branson has steadily sold pieces of his stake in Virgin Galactic since the company went public. Across four major stake sales, Branson recouped more than $1.25 billion, although he remains Virgin Galactic’s largest single shareholder.

His global business conglomerate Virgin Group has said in statements to CNBC that the proceeds of the Virgin Galactic stock sales are intended to support Branson’s other leisure and travel businesses that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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