Wisk Aero Is a Private Company, Consider Boeing Stock to Gain Exposure

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Apr. 18 2022, Published 8:32 a.m. ET

UAM (urban air mobility) has been among the most talked-about investing themes and several UAM companies have gone public over the last two years. Wisk Aero is a UAM company that's backed by Boeing. Does Wisk Aero have stock and is it a publicly-traded company? Also is there a way for retail investors to invest in the company?

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In 1940, Henry Ford predicted that a combination of cars and aircraft was coming. It took several decades for that vision to be fulfilled as clogged cities prompted several companies to focus on flying taxis.

Wisk Aero was founded in 2019.

Wisk Aero was founded in 2019 as a joint venture between Kitty Hawk Corporation and Boeing. While Boeing needs no introduction, Kitty Hawk Corporation was founded in 2010 as a self-flying taxi company. In January 2022, Boeing committed another $450 million to the joint venture.

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Wisk Aero doesn't trade publicly.

Wisk Aero isn't a publicly-traded company and doesn't have stock. The company hasn't made any announcement of listing plans. However, looking at the carnage in growth stocks including UAM companies, it looks highly unlikely that the company would list anytime soon. Also, after the recent round of funding from Boeing, Wisk Aero has sufficient cash to fund its near-term growth.

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How can you invest in Wisk Aero?

Since Wisk Aero is a privately held company, retail investors can't invest in the company. Only accredited investors can invest in private companies. However, a proxy way to invest in Wisk Aero would be to buy Boeing stock.

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While it wouldn't be a pure-play exposure since Boeing’s investment in Wisk Aero is a tiny fraction of the company’s overall valuation, it's a good way to gain exposure to Wisk Aero.

What are some of the other UAM companies?

Joby Aviation, Blade Urban Mobility, Archer Aviation, and Lilium are among the other UAM companies. All of these companies went public through SPAC reverse mergers. However, they all trade below the SPAC IPO price of $10.

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Blade Urban Mobility only trades slightly below the SPAC IPO price. However, the other companies trade well below the IPO price and Lilium trades at a discount of almost 65 percent to the IPO price.

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What’s the outlook for UAM companies?

The outlook for UAM companies like Wisk Aero looks positive. Given the growing traffic in major cities, UAM companies can fill the void. Morgan Stanley is bullish on the industry and expects the UAM market to rise to $1.5 trillion by 2040.

However, in the short term, publicly-traded UAM companies might remain under pressure. Market sentiments towards pre-revenue growth companies have been quite tepid amid rising interest rates.

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Wisk CEO Gary Gysin was on CBS "60 Minutes."

Wisk CEO Gary Gysin was on CBS 60 Minutes where he talked about the company’s eVOTL (electric vertical take-off and landing.) While the system is complicated, Gysin believes that the company’s self-flying plane would be safer since it's fully autonomous.

As with aircraft, autonomous driving is gaining traction in vehicles also. Most automakers are focusing on autonomous cars. Incidentally, most of Tesla’s valuation comes from the company’s software business, which includes the Autopilot, its autonomous driving vertical. Uber sold its flying taxi and autonomous driving business to focus on the core ride-hailing and delivery business.

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