Virgin Galactic falls 9% after founder Richard Branson unloads $150 million stake in the company

Virgin Galactic debut NYSE
  • Virgin Galactic fell as much as 9% on Thursday after its founder Richard Branson sold about $150 million worth of the company.
  • The share sales took place between April 12 and April 14 at prices ranging from $26.82 to $28.73.
  • Despite the share sale, Branson remains the largest shareholder of Virgin Galactic with a 24% stake.
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Shares of Virgin Galactic dropped by as much as 9% on Thursday after founder Richard Branson sold a $150 million stake in the company, according to an SEC filing.

Branson’s 5.5 million share sale occurred in multiple lots between April 12 and April 14, at prices ranging from $26.82 to $28.73. Virgin Galactic currently trades at $25.35, representing a 60% decline from its all-time high of $62.80 reached in mid-February.

The proceeds from the share sale will be used to fund Branson’s travel and leisure businesses, and to develop new and existing ventures, a Virgin Group representative said. Despite the $150 million share sale, Branson still remains the largest shareholder of the spaceflight company, owning a 24% stake worth about $1.6 billion.

Branson isn’t the only insider who has reduced his exposure to Virgin Galactic. In early March, Virgin Galactic’s chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sold his entire remaining stake in the company for more than $200 million.

Shares of Virgin Galactic were already under pressure this week, with the stock down 13% as its competitor Blue Origin launched a successful test flight of its New Shepard rocket.

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Virgin Galactic jumps 11% after it schedules test flight window for February

Virgin Galactic debut NYSE
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic, gives the thumbs up after ringing a ceremonial bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to promote the first day of trading of Virgin Galactic Holdings shares on October 28, 2019 in New York City.

  • Virgin Galactic spiked 11% on Monday after it scheduled its test flight window for mid-February.
  • The move comes two months after the company unexpectedly aborted a test flight set for December due to connectivity issues.
  • “We are pleased to be able to get back to the skies and continue our flight test program,” CEO Michael Colglazier said.
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Virgin Galactic jumped as much as 11% on Monday after the space exploration company scheduled its test flight window for mid-February. 

The test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity comes two months after the company had to abort a test flight due to an onboard computer issue that halted ignition of the rocket motor. That delay led to a nearly 20% sell-off in Virgin Galactic stock.

But Virgin Galactic has recovered those losses and then some, with the stock hitting record highs in the past week after Reddit traders targeted highly shorted stocks in an attempt to spark a squeeze. Shares of Virgin Galactic traded near record highs on Monday. 

Pending good weather conditions and technical readiness, Virgin Galactic will launch its spaceship sometime after February 13, and will be crewed by two pilots. The spaceship will carry research payloads as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program.

Once Virgin Galactic completes two successful test flights of the SpaceShipTwo Unity, founder Richard Branson will board the third test flight into space, which could happen sometime in the first half of 2021 if all goes to plan. 

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic said: “We are pleased to be able to get back to the skies and continue our flight test program.”

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Virgin Galactic slides 6% as investors look to sell 113 million shares

spaceshiptwo unity first free flight new mexico spaceport america runway landing virgin galactic may 2020
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo “Unity” lands on a runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico on May 1, 2020.

  • Virgin Galactic fell as much as 6% on Friday after shareholders filed to sell up to 113 million shares.
  • Shareholders aim to sell up to roughly 105 million outstanding shares of common stock and up to 8 million shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of warrants, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday.
  • The filing doesn’t specify when the selling could begin.
  • The filing comes as shares sit roughly 120% higher year-to-date.
  • Watch Virgin Galactic trade live here.

Virgin Galactic tumbled as much as 6% on Friday after shareholders moved to sell up to 113 million shares.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday, stockholders announced efforts to resell up to about 105 million outstanding shares of common stock and up to 8 million shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of warrants. Virgin Galactic won’t receive any of the proceeds from the sale. The filing doesn’t specify when the selling could begin.

The resale efforts come as Virgin Galactic shares sit about 120% higher year-to-date. 

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Shares recently weathered stronger volatility as the company prepares for its first manned test flight out of Spaceport America in New Mexico. The stock rallied to a 9-month high on December 7 as investors bet on a successful test, but rocket engine issues postponed the flight and dragged shares as much as 17% lower on December 14.

“Virgin Galactic is now conducting post-flight analysis and can so far report that the onboard computer which monitors the propulsion system lost connection, triggering a fail-safe scenario that intentionally halted ignition of the rocket motor,” the company said in a statement.

It’s unclear when the test flight will be rescheduled. The initial plans to hold the test in November were already delayed once after rising COVID-19 cases in New Mexico squandered launch efforts.

Virgin Galactic closed at $25.50 on Thursday. The company has five “buy” ratings and four “hold” ratings from analysts, with a consensus price target of $24.56.

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Virgin Galactic falls 17% after aborting key flight test as rocket engine fails to ignite

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic (SPCE) logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the company begins public trading in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Virgin Galactic (SPCE) logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

  • Shares of Virgin Galactic tumbled as much as 17% to $26 on Monday after a test flight over the weekend failed to reach outer space due to rocket engine ignition issues.
  • “Virgin Galactic is now conducting post flight analysis and can so far report that the onboard computer which monitors the propulsion system lost connection, triggering a fail-safe scenario that intentionally halted ignition of the rocket motor,” the company said in a statement.
  • Test pilots flew back to the Spaceport America launch site in New Mexico and landed safely. It’s unclear when Virgin Galactic’s next test flight will be. 
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Shares of Virgin Galactic tumbled as much as 17% on Monday after its first manned test flight on Saturday failed to reach outer space as planned. The rocket motor that is supposed to propel the craft into space failed to ignite, causing the test pilots to fly back to the Spaceport America launch site in New Mexico and land safely.

“During the test flight, the rocket motor did not fire due to the ignition sequence not completing,” the company said in a Monday statement. “Virgin Galactic is now conducting post flight analysis and can so far report that the onboard computer which monitors the propulsion system lost connection, triggering a fail-safe scenario that intentionally halted ignition of the rocket motor. ” 

Shares slumped to as low as $26 Monday morning after closing at $32 on Friday. The stock has been climbing steadily since the beginning of November and hit its highest level since late February last Monday, when the company signaled the critical test flight was almost ready to launch. 

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It’s unclear when Virgin Galactic’s next attempt at a powered flight to space will be. 

The spaceflight company tweeted on Saturday: “As we do with every test flight, we are evaluating all the data, including the root cause assessment of the computer communication loss.  We look forward to sharing information on our next flight window in the near future.” 

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