Wildly missed revenue projections cast a long shadow over space firms that went public by merging with a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, as their shares continue to underperform in the market.
Most that joined the recent hype around merging with these publicly listed shell companies announced their deals in 2021, and the majority of them also closed that year to raise significant sums for cash-intensive businesses.
SPAC mergers do not require the intensive due diligence of a traditional IPO process, leaving companies vulnerable to making lofty financial forecasts to drum up investor support.
While most post-SPAC space firms continue to point to a massive backlog of revenues from eager customers, they have struggled to hit even near-term financial goals.
Of those that held investor presentations in 2021 for their SPAC tie-up, only Rocket Lab beat the revenue target it made for the following year. Planet hit its projection, and Terran Orbital was just 2% under. The rest were significantly off the mark.
However, all post-SPAC space firms look to be coming in short of the 2023 predictions they made in 2021 — even Rocket Lab, which now expects to make around $67 million in the third quarter of 2023 after reporting $117 million in revenue for the first half. That is some $83 million shy of its earlier $267 million forecast for 2023 that it will need to make up for in the fourth quarter.
Rocket Lab lowered revenue expectations for the third quarter by $6-10 million Sept. 26, a week after a launch failure forced it to delay at least one future mission.
Missed revenue targets add another weight to share prices already under pressure from tough macroeconomic conditions, reducing the value of these companies and their options for raising more capital. Virgin Orbit collapsed into bankruptcy in April after running out of cash to keep its operations running.
Momentus, which announced its SPAC deal just ahead of the 2021 rush, holds the record for falling shortest of the mark it set for itself. The space tug specialist reported $299,000 in revenue for 2022, less than 1% of the $152 million it told investors to expect.
Jason Rainbow’s Connecting the Dots column originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of SpaceNews magazine.