It’s amazing how a simple signature in Washington can cause an explosion in innovation. No, I’m not talking about new legislation – but rather, the loosening of federal oversight to finally allow in private enterprise and free-market influences.
Consider a seemingly arcane move in 2000, made by President Clinton, to change Global Positioning System data from “selective availability” to public record. That simple move opened the floodgates to spawn an entire consumer technology industry for GPS systems.
Bill Clinton probably never expected cars to have on-board GPS systems or phones to be able to literally direct us to the nearest coffee shop. But savvy investors who saw the big potential in privatization made a killing. Consider that from 2001 to 2007, Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) stock soared from less than $10 in 2000 to more than $120 in 2007, while the market added about 25% in the same period.
As the space shuttle Atlantis returns to earth this week and closes the curtains on government-sponsored space flight and two decades of NASA’s shuttle program, we may be faced with a new market-changing shift: the push towards privatized space programs. Just as the government set the stage for a boom in GPS-related businesses by opening the doors to private industry, so might the end of the shuttle program usher in tremendous opportunities for space stocks and related companies.
So which picks are the biggest players? Here’s three publicly traded companies that could benefit from the push into privatized space flight.