BofA cuts Virgin Galactic price target on reduced expected flight volumes

March 16, 2023 4:58 PM EDT
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BofA Securities cut its price target on Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) to $3.00 from $4.00 while maintaining an Underperform rating due to reduced expected flight volumes in the upcoming years, caused by Unity being the only operational vehicle until 2026.

Additionally, the firm now expects fewer available passenger seats on initial commercial flights as well, in line with management comments.

The firm mentioned that the VMS Eve mothership has returned to Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America facility after completing much of the enhancement program. This program included upgrading the launch pylon, installing new horizontal stabilizers, and improving the avionics and mechanical systems. With this work done, Virgin Galactic is ready to begin commercial service in Q2/23 with VSS Unity.

The company has confirmed that VSS Imagine, the second spaceship in their fleet, is currently idle. The company's engineering capabilities are instead focused on preparing VSS Unity for its first commercial flight and ensuring the readiness of the Delta-class and Next-Gen Mothership fleets for widespread entry into service in 2026.

“While we understand the approach, we believe leaving the VSS Imagine vehicle idle leaves SPCE vulnerable if VSS Unity were to be taken out of service,” said the firm.

In 2023, the company plans to prioritize completing their Delta-class and mothership designs, tooling assembly, and parts fabrication, with ground and flight testing scheduled for 2025, aiming for entry into service for both platforms by 2026.

The firm reduced its EPS estimates on higher operating expenses through the outyears to ($1.82) from ($0.72) in 2023, ($1.39) from ($0.37) in 2024, and ($1.29) from ($0.19) in 2025.

By Davit Kirakosyan

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