FILE PHOTO: Sir Richard Branson stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) trading in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N), said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter net loss widened to $73 million from a year-ago loss of $46 million as it reported its first results as a publicly traded company.
The fourth-quarter results come as the company is aiming for a first flight later this year with Branson on board, while seeking a new source of revenue in thousands of potential space travelers.
Shares of Virgin rose 1% in after-hours trade after initially falling 5%. Shares had rallied in recent days, driven by investor interest in the first space tourism company to hit public markets.
Virgin Galactic competes with billionaire-backed ventures such as Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) CEO Jeff Bezos, to be the first to offer suborbital flights to fare-paying tourists, presaging a new era of civilian space travel that could kick off as soon as this year.
Other players including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co (BA.N) have their sights set on higher altitudes like the International Space Station, the moon and eventually Mars.
The company, which went public last year, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $529,000, and $3.8 million for 2019, the first full year of results.
Virgin was expected to update investors on its progress toward commercial flights and other topics a conference call later on Tuesday.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Tracy Rucinski and Matthew Lewis