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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Popped 7.5% -- Then Gave Most of It Back

By Rich Smith - Dec 11, 2020 at 2:18PM

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No test flight for you today, space fans.

What happened

For the better part of two weeks, space tourism stock Virgin Galactic ( SPCE -7.12% ) has been ginning up enthusiasm for its next test flight, announcing that the "flight window" would open on Dec. 11.  

Well, Dec. 11 is here, Virgin Galactic's bird is still not in the air, and its stock -- up 7.5% at one point this morning -- is now hanging on to just 2.2% at noon EST.

VSS Unity and VMS Eve in their hangar in New Mexico at daybreak

Image source: Virgin Galactic.

So what

Virgin Galactic tried to let investors down easy on this one, cautioning yesterday after close of trading that weather forecasts were not "optimal" for a Friday takeoff. This morning, it updated that, although the flight window is in fact open, high-level winds and turbulence are going to keep it grounded today.  

"We will fly no earlier than Saturday," informed the company, adding it may "extend into next week if necessary."  

Now what

Mr. Market appears disappointed by the development, but really, flight delays are an accepted part of the space launch business. Everybody has them. (Some longer than others.)

Although today's abortive stock rally is probably a disappointment to traders, who've enjoyed chasing the stock 21% higher over the past 10 trading days leading up to today, this latest delay shouldn't really affect the thinking of longer-term investors. Meanwhile, the latest coronavirus numbers out of New Mexico -- which I consider a bit more significant, as spikes could more significantly delay flights -- look relatively tame today, essentially unchanged from yesterday's tally.  

Long story short, there's little bad news for Virgin Galactic today, and on balance that should be good news for the stock.

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.

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