Billionaires are in the habit of showing off, as evidenced recently by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Branson's launch of SpaceShipTwo via Virgin Galactic (SPCE) came on Jul. 11, and Bezos's launch of New Shepard via Blue Origin (which Bezos founded from sales of Amazon [AMZN] stock) on Jul. 20.
The launchpad is crowded, so why aren't space flights making stock prices soar?
Virgin Galactic stock (SPCE) fell following SpaceShipTwo's launch
Branson launched Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo on a Sunday. The following day, the market opened to a surprise. SPCE stock fell 7.2 percent over the course of the day, coming off a nine percent premarket rally. Following the drop in stock price, SPCE was trading 23 percent lower than its closing price the previous Friday.
Much of this has to do with Virgin Galactic announcing a sale of half a billion dollars in stock the morning after the launch. The move frustrated investors enough to counteract shareholder interest from the successful space flight.
That downward trend has continued. Since the flight, SPCE stock is down 26.42 percent, trimming its year-to-date growth to just 28.65 percent. On Jun. 25, the stock boasted growth of 140.89 percent for the year.
Shortly after Blue Origin launches New Shepard into space, Amazon stock (AMZN) goes in the red
On Jul. 20, Bezos—joined by his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen—ventured 62 miles into the atmosphere before returning to Earth unharmed.
Another successful launch for the books, you'd think it would boost AMZN stock a little. After all, Bezos has used profits from sold Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin, which intertwines the two Bezos-founded companies.
All that aside, the reality has proven to be different. AMZN stock fell as much as 1.24 percent within the first 45 minutes of trading following the launch. In the next 45 minutes, the shares recovered a full percentage point but were still in the red.
With the Blue Origin space flight so fresh in investors' minds, things are moving quickly for Amazon stock. Things could turn around, but it's telling that AMZN is not seeing a surge following a thoroughly hyped move.
Investors aren't as impressed as billionaire space explorers thought they'd be
The decline of SPCE and AMZN stock after the billionaire-led companies' respective space flights is an interesting twist of fate.
Are people impressed by these billionaires' feats? Maybe. However, investors might be more interested in company leaders proving they can make smart business moves. The stock activity also suggests that the larger investment space understands these flights are marginal improvements—Virgin Galactic didn't even officially make it past the Kármán line into outer space. There's also the energy it takes to launch a space flight to consider: shouldn't the mega-rich be doing their fair share to tackle climate change rather than contributing to it?
On the plus side, everyone survived, so we won't see any stocks tanking because people are getting out of dodge.