Virgin Orbit Reports FY 2021 Financial Results

Virgin Orbit's two-stage rocket, LauncherOne, and Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747.
Via Vorgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit (NASDAQ:VORB) lost $157M in 2021 on $7.4M in revenue, the company said yesterday. $VORB finished the day up 8.4%. 

KPIs at a glance: 

  1. Adj. EBITDA: -$140M (vs. -$158M in 2020)
  2. Cash on hand: $194M
  3. Backlog: $575M, 26% of which is covered by binding agreements, and good for a 500% YoY increase. 

Context: This is the first time the air-based launcher has reported financial results since its Dec. de-SPAC. Virgin raised $228M through said merger. 

  • Back then, we wrote the proceeds “fall well short of what Virgin Orbit and sponsors were expecting to raise from shareholders (up to $483M, with only $100M in PIPE funding).”
  • Virgin’s 2021 revenue was ~50% less than what it projected Virgin projected for the year in its SPAC investor deck.

Bottom (and top) line

Payload readers need no reminder, but we’ll say it anyway: Launch is a business with razor-thin margins and ultra-slim odds of success. As Ars Technica’s Eric Berger put it…“Not great financial numbers for Virgin Orbit, which has an actual functioning rocket and an excellent record.” 

Launch is a tough nut to crack, but Virgin Orbit is part of a small and prestigious club of private space players. While quarter-to-quarter financial reporting isn’t the end all be all for rocket makers, it’s not nothing. It’s what space newsletter writers rely on. As Virgin expands its launch footprint globally and continues scaling up operations in 2022, we’ll be watching to see how (or if) the company can move the needle on its top and bottom lines.