Virgin Galactic posts smaller loss than expected, improves cash position

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and his crew, lands after reaching the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S., July 11, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

(Reuters) -Space tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc on Tuesday posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and said its cash position had improved, sending its shares 5% higher in extended trading.

The company founded by billionaire Richard Branson held about $931 million in cash as of Dec. 31, compared with $679 million a year earlier.

The figure excludes the $425 million it raised last month through a debt offering to help fund the launch of its commercial service, which is set to start later this year.

Virgin Galactic earlier this month re-opened ticket sales to the public for space travel, setting prices at $450,000 per person with an initial deposit of $150,000.

The company has sharpened its focus on its Delta class of spaceships, engaging with suppliers to ramp up production of the craft that is expected to make up the bulk of its flight capacity and fly once a week.

It posted a loss of 31 cents per share in the fourth quarter to Dec. 31, compared with estimates of a 35 cents per share loss, according to Refinitiv IBES data. That was helped by labor efficiencies and the postponement of certain non-critical work.

Total revenue came in at $141,000, below expectations of $331,000.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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