Investing in Space

This speculative space stock is outstripping even Tesla's rally since the year began

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Key Points
  • Tesla is up more than 91% year to date, while Virgin Galactic is up nearly 150%.
  • Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas called out the speculative space stock's climb in a note to investors on Tuesday.
  • "We are very constructive on the Virgin Galactic story ... we just think the share price could use a breather," Jonas said.
Sir Richard Branson stands outside the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the Virgin Galactic (SPCE) IPO in New York, October 28, 2019.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Virgin Galactic's stock has been leaping to record highs in recent weeks, with its rally since the beginning of the year outstripping even the scintillating of rise Tesla.

While Elon Musk's automaker is up more than 91% year to date, the stock of Richard Branson and Chamath Palihapitiya's space company is up nearly 150%.

The stock popped again, too. Shares of Virgin Galactic climbed as much as 26% and passed $35 a share. The stock closed up 5.8%. Tuesday's jump comes after shares gained 21.2% during its previous day of trading, closing at an all time high of $28.68.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas called out the speculative space stock's climb in a note to investors on Tuesday, questioning whether the gain has been "too much too soon."

"We are very constructive on the Virgin Galactic story ... we just think the share price could use a breather," Jonas said. "We must acknowledge that the move in the stock price of late appears to be driven by forces beyond fundamental factors."

He also suspects "the scarcity of pure plays in the public market" for space companies may be combining "with an upwelling of investor sentiment around human spaceflight," contributing to the stock's "extraordinary rise." It's that speculative combination of factors that analysts believe is driving Virgin Galactic's stock rally, especially as investor interest grows in the space industry at large.

Jonas pointed out that Virgin Galactic's jump on Friday came after the company relocated its spacecraft to its operating base in New Mexico from its development facility in California.

"While it's cool to see how the White Knight can move a spaceship under its belly ... and there were some important learnings from piloting the plane and bringing the craft to high altitude, we don't see this as one of the more ambitious tests," Jonas said.