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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Just Dropped 8%

By Rich Smith – Oct 21, 2020 at 1:27PM

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Jim Chanos told a joke. Virgin Galactic investors aren't laughing.

What happened

When noted short-seller Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates told investors at the Grant's Interest Rate Observer conference yesterday that he loved space stocks, and would "go long" any publicly traded space company, the news helped to drive Virgin Galactic (SPCE -2.30%) stock up as much as 7%. But then, Chanos clarified that he was just joking about space stocks ...

And now, Virgin Galactic shares are headed the other way: down a depressing 8% in Wednesday trading circa 12:05 p.m. EDT.

Chalkboard drawing of stock chart arrow going up being erased and pointing back down

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Why such dramatic reactions to what is, after all, just one fellow's opinion -- and the opinion of a pretty pessimistic person to boot? I'm honestly not sure. Possibly, investors are getting the sense that they've been duped, tricked, had the rug pulled out from under them.

Maybe this is why Virgin Galactic stock not only gave up almost all of the gains it scored early yesterday by the close of trading yesterday -- but why it's falling even farther today.

Now what

But maybe, just maybe, Virgin Galactic itself bears part of the blame here.

After all, it wouldn't matter so much what a trader like Chanos says about Virgin Galactic -- whether he likes it or doesn't -- if the company itself was raking in revenue and earning profits from its business sending tourists to space. There'd be solid numbers to hang a valuation on, and investors could decide for themselves if Virgin Galactic was earning to justify its stock price.

Instead, the company has mainly produced promises to date -- promises it would begin commercial operations this year and turn profitable next year. Until Virgin Galactic begins fulfilling those promises, you should expect its shares to remain vulnerable to the words of the Wall Street wise.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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