Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) shares have rocketed higher over the last couple weeks amid increasing public and investor interest in the space launch company as it nears the goal of launching commercial service.
It's not clear exactly what's driven the stock higher in recent days, though the company has had a steady trickle of small-to-medium milestone news on its path toward orbit for paying customers, most recently an early January key step toward completion of the company's second spaceship that boosted the stock.
General Public Paying Attention
Generally, the public is starting to pay attention to the missions of Virgin Galactic and other space companies, such as competitor SpaceX.
"Perhaps driven by the company’s market cap increase, we have witnessed a materially greater frequency of incoming queries from investors to understand the pitch and learn more about the company’s role in the rapidly evolving space economy," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a Wednesday note. "Investors are now focused on the next set of certification catalysts prior to launching commercial service, including a number of powered and non-powered/glide test flights."
Jonas has an Overweight rating on Virgin Galactic, with a $22 price target.
Interest in the private space industry may have gotten a boost over the weekend with another test, albeit one by SpaceX, which successfully tested an astronaut escape system on Sunday that would be used in case of a rocket mishap.
The next catalyst for Virgin Galactic stock may come next month when CEO George Whitesides speaks at the Barclays Industrial Select Conference Feb. 20, where Investors may be expecting information on any new developments.
Virgin Galactic stock was trading at just under $19 on Wednesday, up from around $11 a month ago and a low of around $7.25 in late November.