Stock Market

In the last seven weeks, shares of Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) stock are up 177%. The big news driving shares higher is that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Virgin to carry passengers into space.

Source: Tun Pichitanon /

At the same time, SPCE stock has the attention of Reddit’s WallStreetBets trading community. In fact, it has become one of the most popular social media meme stocks in recent weeks. Virgin is not quite at the level of AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) in terms of social media buzz. However, Virgin is one of the 10 most mentioned tickers on WallStreetBets, according to Swaggy Stocks.

If you’re a meme stock gambler, best of luck to you. I think you’ll have just as good a chance at day trading AMC stock for a profit as you would flipping SPCE stock or betting on red at the roulette table. If you are a long-term investor, both AMC and Virgin Galactic are grossly overvalued. However, SPCE stock has a much more compelling long-term bull thesis than AMC does.

Why SPCE Stock Is Soaring

On June 25, Virgin announced the FAA granted the company a commercial space-launch license.

Shortly thereafter, popular billionaire founder Richard Branson announced he would be on Virgin’s first manned flight on July 11. By doing so, Branson will beat (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos in the billionaire space race. Bezos will be aboard Blue Origin’s first manned flight on July 20.

There’s no question the recent headlines are overwhelmingly positive for the company’s brand and long-term outlook. However, Virgin Galactic is still years away from doing any meaningful business.

Bank of America analyst Ronald Epstein is projecting $2 million in revenue from the company in 2021. By 2023, he is projecting Virgin Galactic’s revenue will grow to $115 million. For context, its market cap is now $10.8 billion. That valuation is slightly higher than Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) at $9 billion. Bank of America is projecting $11.1 billion in revenue for Dick’s in 2023. That’s roughly 10 times more revenue than Virgin Galactic.

I’m not suggesting that Virgin Galactic and Dick’s are even remotely comparable in terms of business model or growth outlook. I’m merely highlighting how tiny Virgin Galactic’s business is today and how tiny it will continue to be for at least several more years.

Two Overvalued Stocks

Once again, the FAA news is unequivocally good news for Virgin Galactic’s long-term outlook.

“We continue to see Virgin Galactic as a beneficiary of the new commercial space race,” Epstein said following the FAA news.

“However, we believe this premium is already priced into the stock and will dwindle as more commercial space companies go public.”

In that same note, Epstein downgraded SPCE stock from “neutral” to “underperform.” He also set a $41 price target, well below the $49 it was trading on July 9.

Like Virgin, AMC is also unprofitable. It’s also extremely overvalued based on current and projected earnings, sales and cash flow.

But AMC also has an Everest-sized mountain of debt. And it has flooded the market with new shares of stock, diluting current shareholders in an attempt to stay solvent and avoid bankruptcy.

How to Play it

While SPCE stock is up 177% since mid-May, AMC is up 300%. As I discussed, Virgin Galactic’s big move came on the heels of major positive headlines about the company’s long-term future. The major news about AMC in recent weeks has been that the company is selling millions more shares of stock and giving retail investors free popcorn.

Oh, and the company itself also took the time to include a warning to investors in an official filing.

“Under the circumstances, we caution you against investing in our Class A common stock, unless you are prepared to incur the risk of losing all or a substantial portion of your investment,” AMC wrote.

Virgin Galactic is an overvalued growth stock with a reasonable chance the company will eventually grow into its current valuation. Of course, that growth may take five years or longer to play out.

AMC is the exact opposite. Movie theater ticket sales have been steadily shrinking for about two decades.  There’s a huge difference between making a high-risk bet on an early leader in a potentially massive growth market and making a high-risk bet on a leader in a market in secular decline.

I’m not recommending long-term investors buy AMC or SPCE at this point. But if you’re going to choose one of the two meme stocks, the SPCE stock bull thesis makes a lot more sense.

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

Wayne Duggan has been a U.S. News & World Report Investing contributor since 2016 and is a staff writer at Benzinga, where he has written more than 7,000 articles. Mr. Duggan is?the author of the book “Beating Wall Street With Common Sense,” which focuses on investing psychology and practical strategies to outperform the stock market.