Friday, May 26, 2023
At first blush, it seemed like a picture-perfect liftoff.
On April 20, the most powerful rocket ever built lifted off from Boca Chica, Texas, the epicenter of SpaceX's operations.
As it blasted into the clear blue Texas sky, the 40-story Starship rocket, equipped with 33 engines, sent up a dust cloud that eventually engulfed the nearest town...
But the awe and excitement only lasted minutes. Around 24 miles into its maiden voyage, the rocket exploded, putting a quick end to the mission.
You might remember this incident. It garnered global attention. But while it put a damper on the promise of space travel, it won't have any material on the fast-growing space economy.
The fact is, there is always a risk when launching rockets, no matter their size. In fact, the bigger they are, the more spectacular they sometimes fall.
These risks, however, are all part of the high-stakes game being played in what's known as the new "Space Race." By 2040, Citi projects this race will create a $1 trillion industry.
We're still in the early stages, but everyone – from niche startups to legacy aerospace giants – is vying to be a part of this emerging market.
I've been excited about the prospects of a particular company for years now, one whose reputation goes back to the Apollo missions, and continues today with its involvement in the new Artemis program.
More on that company later, though. For now...
The way I see it, SpaceX's failure was merely a blip on the timeline of an exciting new era in space exploration.
In 2021, there were more orbital launch attempts than any time in history. There were 144 launches – more than two a week – including 133 successful ones.
But the ones that failed are just as important. Each one tells rocket makers how to improve. It's an expensive way to learn, but it's truly the best way to figure out how to succeed in this increasingly competitive sector.
While 2021 was a record-breaking year for launches, last year set a new record with 180 launches.
And 2023 is expected to be even busier. SpaceX alone is planning 100 launches, and the U.S. military is scheduled for 87. Between January and March of this year, there were 186 launches worldwide.
These numbers illustrate that the space industry is no longer the provenance of Western nations. Space has become a global ambition. Countries including Russia, China, Japan, India, Israel, and North Korea are getting involved.
For example, the aging International Space Station ("ISS") will be decommissioned in 2030. That's led China to build its own station, and Russia to announce plans to leave the ISS in 2028.
Part of this global involvement relates to security and intelligence. Recently, reports suggested a Russian satellite was shadowing U.S. military satellites in order to glean information.
But the most ambitious projects are still U.S.-funded and guided by NASA. The Artemis program, for example, involves America returning to the moon in the new two or three years. The plan is to not just visit the lunar surface, but to colonize it and send missions deeper into space.
Simply put, growth in the space industry is unstoppable. And the company I like in this sector has been a key player since World War II.
Today, it ranks as one of the more coveted makers of everything from high-altitude drones to the next-generation U.S. stealth bomber and the James Webb Space Telescope.
It's also a key member in the United Launch Alliance, which NASA is using to build out its Artemis moon program. The company was also deeply involved in Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile-defense program. It's now a key player in guidance systems for the new generation of hypersonic missiles.
Meanwhile, the storied firm is also revolutionizing power storage for naval vessels and drones. That complements its reputation as a leader in focused-energy weapons – not having to store tons of ammunition for a vessel's guns lightens the ship, as well as removes significant risks of secondary explosions during an attack.
Multiple irons in the fire translates to multiple revenue streams. Whether it's via air, land, sea, or space, this company is bringing in the dollars. And that's certainly not going to change as the high-growth space race gets underway.
Granted, earnings for this company had been weak during the past three years. That's because it invested in space infrastructure, which isn't cheap.
And given the core businesses it supports, it's been transitioning to platforms and sectors that are only now being built out by the U.S. and its allies.
But things are beginning to turn around. Last year's fourth quarter showed a 25% jump in fully adjusted earnings.
Furthermore, the company has a $77 billion backlog of orders and a $500 million share-repurchase program. That's on top of a recent 8% increase in its dividend.
Bottom line: This company has had its roots in the space industry for decades. And it's my pick for those looking to potentially earn a windfall of profits from the new Space Race.
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Cheers and Good Investing,
Chief Investment Officer
Trend Trader Daily