Stocks to buy

Space stocks are on the launchpad. Should all go well, the industry could be worth up to $800 billion by 2030, says UBS, as reported by Forbes.

By 2040, the industry could be worth $1 trillion, added Morgan Stanley. Plus, there’s already a good deal of pent-up demand. According to analysts at Cowen, 39% of people with a net worth of more than $5 million are already interested in paying at least $250,000 for a flight, says CNBC. Even billionaires are jumping on the bandwagon.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic wants to launch the first commercial space flights with seats already reserved at $250,000 a pop.

Jeff Bezos is devoting more time to his Blue Origin space venture. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is even raising capital at a $137 billion valuation. While it’ll take some time to get space tourism right, there’s plenty of excitement. In fact, here are seven stocks just waiting to blast off.

SPCE Virgin Galactic $4.98
ARKX ARK Space Exploration & Innovation $13.81
ROKT SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF $41.69
ITA iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF $52.28
ASTR Astra Space $0.59
LMT Lockheed Martin $480.83
LHX L3Harris Technologies $215.66

Virgin Galactic (SPCE)

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Since the start of the year, shares of Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) exploded from a low of $3.25 to about $6.50. While we’re seeing some weakness, that’s to be expected after its run.

The company has said upgrades to its VMS Eve (its carrier mothership) are complete.

“The mothership is expected to enter ground tests next week before commencing flight tests to verify the enhancements to the ship. Commercial service remains on track to begin in Q2 2023,” the company said.

Virgin Galactics’s earnings aren’t anything to write home about just yet. The good news is that it has $1.1 billion in cash. Unfortunately, its recent net loss of $146 million, was far worse than the $48 million net loss, year over year. Adjusted EBITDA was down by $129 million, which was worse than the $68 million drop a year earlier.

ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF (ARKX)

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Another way to invest in space travel is with an ETF, such as ARK Invest’s ARK Space Exploration & Innovation (BATS:ARKX). Not only does it offer solid diversification among top space travel names, but it also does so at less cost.

With an expense ratio of 0.75%, the fund, “Aims for thematic exposure to Space Exploration, including orbital and suborbital aerospace, enabling technologies, and beneficiaries of aerospace activities, such as agriculture, Internet access, a global positioning system, construction, and imaging.”

SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF (ROKT)

Source: shutterstock.com/Who is Danny

SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF (NYSEARCA:ROKT) is another top ETF that’s out of this world and one of the space stocks you should be keeping an eye on.

Since the start of the year, the ROKT ETF blasted from a low of $31.95 to a current price of $41.57. From here, I’d like to see it closer to $50.

This one, according to State Street Global Advisors, “seeks to track an index utilizing artificial intelligence and a quantitative weighting methodology to capture companies whose products and services are driving the innovation behind the exploration of the final frontiers, which includes the areas of outer space and the deep sea.” 

iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA)

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The iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (BATS:ITA) is another hot ETF to consider.

With an expense ratio of 0.42%, the iShares US Aerospace & Defense ETF invests in space stocks in the domestic aerospace and as well as in the defense sector. It also tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Aerospace & Defense Index, which holds space-related stocks.

Astra Space (ASTR)

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NASDAQ small-cap Astra Space (NASDAQ:ASTR) is a space launch company that designs, tests, manufactures, and operates launch services, and space products and services. At current prices, this stock is nothing to write home about.

But don’t write it off completely. Late last year, the company announced 237th cumulative committed orders of the Astra Spacecraft Engine, an increase of 130% in about six months.

Better, the company is making good progress on the development of Rocket 4 in anticipation of test flights expected to commence in the latter part of 2023.

Plus, it looks like CEO Chris Kemp is putting his money where his mouth is. In late Dec, the CEO bought another 250,000 shares at an average price of 47 cents. In Aug., the CEO bought 100,000 shares at $1.25 each.

Lockheed Martin (LMT)

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Aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is another “out of this world” opportunity thanks to its experience with making rockets and propulsion weapons and vehicles for the U.S. military. LMT also has a space segment of the company, which includes satellites, space transportation, and defense systems.

LMT isn’t exactly a pure play on space. But it is a strong, established blue chip in the closely related aerospace industry. And it’s been working closely with NASA, providing mission-critical components for NASA’s Lucy mission to Jupiter and the Orion mission to the moon.

Also, Lockheed Martin, in collaboration with commercial space services provider, Nanoracks is developing “the first-ever free-flying commercial space station.

The space station, known as Starlab, will be a continuously crewed commercial platform, dedicated to conducting critical research, fostering industrial activity, and ensuring continued U.S. presence and leadership in low-Earth orbit. Starlab is expected to achieve initial operational capability by 2027.”

L3Harris Technologies (LHX)

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Another space-related stock to consider is L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX). Late last year, the company announced it would acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne for $4.7 billion.

Aerojet, which builds rocket engines and propulsion for space vehicles, for example, generates about $2.3 billion a year in annual revenue. Even more impressive, L3Harris earnings are still strong.

In its fourth quarter, the company’s revenue jumped to $4.58 billion, which was higher than expectations for $4.34 billion. Moving forward, the company expects full-year revenue of $17.4 billion to $17.8 billion, and non-GAAP EPS of $12 to $12.50. That compares with 2022 revenue of $17.1 billion and profit of $12.90 a share.

On the date of publication, Ian Cooper did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Cooper, a contributor to InvestorPlace.com, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999.

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