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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Just Bounced

By Rich Smith - Mar 9, 2021 at 10:34AM

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Is it a relief rally, or a dead cat bounce?

What happened

After a month of almost uninterrupted selling, investors are buying Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE -0.46%) stock again today. From Feb. 8 through close of trading on March 8 last night shares of the space tourism company lost more than half their value. But today, Virgin Galactic shares are up 9.5% as of 10 a.m. EST.


Cartoon professor with a pointer explains why a stock arrow is rising

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Best guess? This is a combination of a relief rally as investors see Treasury yields pull back, and traders who have been short Virgin Galactic close their positions and collect their winnings, and also of longer-term investors taking comfort from what Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya tweeted over the weekend.  

Explaining his decision to sell off all of the Virgin Galactic stock that he directly owns last week, Palihapitiya complained that he had a "tough week" in which every single one of the 14 special purpose acquisition vehicles he runs, or private investments in public equity he has participated in, lost money.

Presented with the loss of $2 billion to his "balance sheet," he explained that, last week, he looked over his portfolio re-questioned his goals, and has "remodeled everything" he is invested in -- concluding that he wants to focus on "inequality and climate change investments" going forward. This was the reason, the chairman said, that he sold "some shares" of Virgin Galactic.

Now what

Of course, Palihapitiya sold a whole lot more than just "some shares." He sold 6.2 million shares -- every single share that he personally owned, keeping only those shares that are tied up in his SCH Sponsor Corp. investing vehicle.

That's a big move, and I fear it may be indicative of Palihapitiya losing interest in Virgin Galactic going forward, as he refocuses his investments away from space and more toward addressing social issues. Notably, the chairman pointed out that he has "not sold any shares of any other SPAC I've launched" -- just Virgin Galactic.

Investors in Palihapitiya's other companies may take some comfort from that. Investors in Virgin Galactic, however, might want to heed his final bit of advice:

"Don't be afraid to make changes."


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