Virgin Galactic shares drop after Cathie Wood’s new space ETF dumps nearly half its holding

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Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity comes into land during a glide test flight on May 1, 2020.
Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic shares fell in trading Tuesday after Ark Invest’s space exploration ETF sold nearly half its stake in the space tourism company.

Cathie Wood’s firm sold 275,204 shares of Virgin Galactic from its ARKX fund on Monday, cutting the ETF’s holdings of the stock from 585,675 shares to 315,781 shares. Of the 39 ARKX holdings, Virgin Galactic was the 19th largest but is now down to 33rd, making up just over 1% of the fund’s weight.

Ark Invest also sold 315,600 shares of Virgin Galactic from its ARKQ “autonomous technology and robotics” fund on Monday. That Ark ETF retains a larger stake in Virgin Galactic, with 1.76 million shares. Together, ARKX and ARKQ hold a stake worth $46.7 million in Virgin Galactic stock as of yesterday’s closing price.

Virgin Galactic’s stock dropped 7% in trading from its previous close of $22.46 a share, and fell as much as 10% earlier in the day’s session.

Wood’s new space ETF only began trading at the end of last month and many investors believed Virgin would be a top holding for the fund given it was among the first publicly traded pure plays in the industry. But ARKX continues to focus its largest holdings on GPS-based services company Trimble, another Ark Invest fund PRNT, and a variety of aerospace and defense contractors including Kratos, L3Harris, Komatsu, Lockheed Martin, Thales, and Boeing. The largest pure-play space holding in ARKX is satellite operator Iridium Communications.

Virgin Galactic’s stock last week erased its 2021 gains, after more than doubling to highs above $60 a share in February. The losses accelerated in the past month after delays to its test program and commercial flights, as well as share sales by chairman Chamath Palihapitiya and then founder Richard Branson.

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