Virgin Galactic earnings preview, stock SPCE

Virgin Galactic’s stock initially jumped on Tuesday as speculative trading in the space tourism company continued, with its quarterly results coming after the market closes.

Shares of Virgin Galactic climbed as much as 8% in early trading but ended the day slightly negative. The stock is near record high levels, as it soared above $40 a share last week after a extraordinary rally. Virgin Galactic has become Wall Street’s favorite speculative investment, surging in popularity on trading platforms past even the likes of Apple and Tesla.

Shares even gained 1% on Monday in a stunning comeback as the broader market plunged.

The average amount of Virgin Galactic shares changing hands each day continues to push higher, with trading volume surging in the past two weeks. Speculative trading in a stock like this is characteristic of a “late cycle” market, when investors look for stocks that will continue outperform after a bull market has run for years.

Virgin Galactic’s stock is up more than 200% since the beginning of the year. The company’s market value has risen to more than $6.8 billion, multiplied several times over since its October debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Net loss, little to no revenue

Tuesday should prove to be a moment of truth for the stock, as Virgin Galactic is scheduled to announced fourth-quarter results after the bell.

The company will likely provide updates to some closely watched metrics during its Q4 earnings call, like the demand for future space tourism customers. In addition to its 603 reservations, Virgin Galactic tracks “expression of interest” from potential customers since its successful test flights about a year ago. The company reported more than 3,500 such “expressions of interest” when it announced third quarter results in November.

But Virgin Galactic is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of 21 cents a share, according to FactSet. Additionally, with commercial operations still months away, Virgin Galactic is expected to reported little to no revenue for the fourth quarter. The company reported just $800,000 of revenue in its previous quarter and a net loss of $138.1 million for the first nine months of 2019.

Virgin Galactic may provide a forecast when first commercial spaceflight will happen, which would be a catalyst for the stock. The company has previously told investors that it will begin flying paying customers later this year.

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