Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Sept. 12, 2022 to reflect that Virgin Galactic’s flight service was pushed back until Q2 2023.
In case Virgin Galactic’s (NYSE:SPCE) downtrodden investors didn’t have enough problems already, SPCE stock slipped today after Bernstein analysts downgraded the shares. Analyst Douglas Harned had some particularly bearish things to say about Virgin Galactic. Among other things, Harned raised the topics of timeline delays and cash burn.
California-headquartered Virgin Galactic is a private space tourism company. It might even be claimed that the company launched the private space flight trend of the 2020s.
Yet, there’s been no liftoff for SPCE stock investors in 2022 so far. They’ve been disappointed by the company’s flight delays. During Virgin Galactic’s second-quarter conference call, the company confirmed it’s pushing back the start of its commercial flight service until the second quarter of 2023.
Harned certainly had this in mind when he downgraded Virgin Galactic shares from “hold” to “sell.” The analyst also slashed his price target on the stock from $7 to $4.
Tough Talk Puts Pressure on SPCE Stock
By 10:30 a.m. Eastern today, SPCE fell 5% and broke below $6. For comparison, the shares traded above $13 at the beginning of 2022.
Mostly likely, Harned’s downgrade and stern verbiage precipitated today’s selloff. Again, flight delays were top-of-mind, though cash burn was also a concern:
“In our view, risks grew significantly during the last 18 months. Given postponements in the timeline, we see limited potential for positive near-term catalysts. There are potential negative catalysts if we see more slippage in the timeline and/or the need to raise even more cash – raises that will be increasingly expensive.”
Driving these points home, Harned added Virgin Galactic has needed “much more work … on the mothership and early spaceships,” and has required more cash. The analyst further noted rising interest rates, which certainly aren’t making things any easier for Virgin Galactic.
Hopefully, Virgin Galactic can shore up its finances without excessively resorting to equity sales. Most importantly, the company will definitely want to maintain a consistent flight schedule. Otherwise, more downgrades and harsh words could be imminent for Virgin Galactic.
On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.