Wall Street is now finally paying attention to the space industry again. In December, CNBC profiled Adam Jonas, a former automotive industry analyst at Morgan Stanley who has shifted to analyze the space industry. His coverage of Tesla led him to discover Elon Musk’s other company, SpaceX, and he found that there was enough going on in the space industry to warrant stronger coverage.
But Wall Street’s expertise on space is still limited, and it shows. Jonas and his team at Morgan Stanley selected a “Space 20” list of publicly traded companies last year that he felt were best positioned to benefit from growth in the industry. That included big aerospace companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. There was also Softbank, an investor in OneWeb, as well as suppliers like Honeywell.
But the list also incorporated some more general technology companies like Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent of Google. Those companies either aren’t involved in space or, in the case of Google, dumped its past investment in space projects. There were also odd entries like Adobe Systems, developer of applications like Photoshop, and GoDaddy, an internet company that became infamous for its controversial Super Bowl ads. Perhaps Morgan Stanley felt a growing space economy would spur development of websites on the moon. While Adobe and GoDaddy made the list, satellite operators Intelsat and Iridium, curiously, did not.
Nonetheless, Morgan Stanley’s interest in space is music to the ears of Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce. In a speech Dec. 6 at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce space event, he said one priority for his department’s space efforts was getting the institutional investment community more interested in the space industry.
“We’re going to need better financing and insurance for the space industry,” he said. Angel investors and venture capital firms, who have poured more money into space startups in recent years, were not enough, he argued. “Missing from space financing are the bigger institutions, especially banks. Their participation will be necessary to execute longer-term commercial plans.”
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