Things are looking really bad.
In the Crapper
Virgin Orbit’s financial woes have apparently deepened to the point that it has reportedly had to furlough its staff while looking for new money.
In a regulatory filing, the Richard Branson-owned satellite launch outfit conceded that it is trying to “conserve capital” while it “conducts discussions with potential funding sources and explores strategic opportunities.”
That effort, it seems, includes both unpaid furloughs for most of its 700-person staff and an operational pause, CNBC notes — yet another indication that getting to space remains incredibly difficult, even with a market valuation of $3 billion back in 2021.
News of this apparent financial disaster comes just a few months after Virgin Orbit admitted that its Rolling Stones-themed rocket disintegrated in mid-air just after liftoff in January. That update was made during an investor-focused press release in which the company appeared to be trying to reassure its investors that all was well — a fool’s errand, it seems, given the latest.
“Our investigation [into the rocket disintegration] is nearly complete,” a company spokesperson told media in a statement this week, “and our next production rocket with the needed modification incorporated is in final stages of integration and test.”
As CNBC notes, the company’s shares have taken a beating amid its admission of cash flow trouble. It’s currently trading at 67 cents per share, down about 35 percent from its $1.04-per-share value at the end of the business day yesterday.
Compared to its nearly $10-per-share trading rate when the company first went public at the end of 2021, it’s not hard to see why it’s in such dire straits now.
These financial tribulations predate the early January launch debacle, too. In a November 2022 filing, the company admitted to a whopping $149 million loss for the first three quarters of the year.
With its next quarterly earnings report slated to drop at the end of the month, it’s likely that that number will be even higher.
Volatility is always a very real risk, particularly in the space industry, which has historically been plagued by technical issues and is becoming more and more crowded.
Virgin Orbit’s downward financial trajectory, however, seems to go further than the usual industry ups and downs — after all, it hasn’t really had a big win yet.
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