What happened

Shares of Canadian-American space-tech company Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) leapt more than 19% by the close of trading yesterday, and are up another 11% as of 12:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday. With no new news to account for the jump, we're going to point the finger once again at the source of yesterday's excitement:

J.P. Morgan, and its high-risk/high-reward endorsement of Maxar stock.

Satellite transmitting signal to Earth

"Hey, Houston! Did you hear what JPMorgan said about Maxar stock yesterday?!" Image source: Getty Images.

So what

To recap, yesterday J.P. Morgan initiated coverage of Maxar stock with an "overweight" rating and a $12 price target. While Maxar's currently unprofitable, J.P. Morgan has high hopes that Maxar will become profitable thanks to a string of valuable space tech contracts it's won from NASA and other customers -- including a $375 million deal to build the power and propulsion element spacecraft for NASA's new lunar Gateway space station.

J.P. Morgan predicts that when Maxar finishes restructuring its business, building a new fleet of "Legion" digital imaging satellites to replace its lost WorldView-4 satellite, and executing on its NASA contracts, it will be on course to turn free-cash-flow positive (and GAAP profitable) by 2021. It's rating the stock "outperform" now, to beat the rush later on.

Now what

Highlighting the positive stock action yesterday (and today), CNBC space analyst Michael Sheetz observed today on Twitter that "I don't think space industry folks realize how big a deal the JPM call was but the market certainly seems to."

The downside: With J.P. Morgan's endorsement or without it, Maxar still has a $3.4 billion debt load to deal with. Until it gets that debt paid off, the company's future will remain in doubt, and its shifts in stock price could be just as dramatic as what we've seen over the past two days -- shifts both up and down.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.