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Space Exploration: Stocks and ETFs to Watch

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This past weekend, history was made, which may usher in a new era of space exploration. The Space X Crew Dragon became the first privately built ship to ever carry humans to the international space station. Aboard the famous Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon successfully docked on Sunday, some 19 hours after launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

The momentous occasion is also garnering interest from potential investors. How can one invest in this multi-billion industry? At the moment, Space X is private, but there are several other intriguing options for investors looking for exposure to space exploration. 

Space exploration ETFs

The simplest way to gain exposure to the industry is to invest in an exchange-traded fund (ETF). Although there are no Canadian-listed ETFs, there are two intriguing options south of the border. 

The SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF (NYSEMKT:ROKT) focuses on spacecraft, launch vehicles, rockets, satellites, infrastructure and mission-support services. The fund seeks to provide investment results that track the total return performance of the S&P Kensho Final Frontiers Index. The Index attempts to capture companies whose products and services are driving innovation behind the exploration of deep space and deep sea. 

Among the top holdings, you will find industry leaders such as Raytheon Technologies  and Lockheed Martin. TSX-listed Maxar Technologies is also among ROKT’s top holdings. 

Since launching in late 2018, Kensho performed quite well and had a banner 2019 in which it gained 40.90%. The fund was trending well again in 2020 until the pandemic sent its price crashing. Despite rebounding, Kensho is still trading at a 28% discount to its 52-week high. 

The Procure Space ETF (NASDAQ:UFO) focuses on broadcasting, cable/satellite TV, telecommunications and telecom-equipment industries. The fund seeks to provide investment results that track the “S-Network Space Index” equity Index. The Index serves as an equity benchmark for a global portfolio of companies that engage in space-related business, such as those utilizing satellite technology.

Among the top holdings of this space exploration fund you will find Virgin Galactic, ORBCOMM, and once again, Maxar Technologies. 

Procure only launched in May of last year, and it has lost 23.16% of its value since inception. Over the past month, it is up by approximately 11% and is rebounding along with the rest of the markets. 

A Canadian leader

Outside of the aforementioned Maxar Technologies, Magellan Aerospace (TSX:MAL) is also worth a look in the space exploration industry. Although not a pure play, Magellan has been working with partners in the space industry for over 50 years. 

Magellan’s significant expertise made them key partners in several missions. Most recently, it partnered with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM). Canada’s new generation of Earth observation satellites launched in July of 2019. 

According to the CSA, “the satellites will scan our country and its waters daily to help manage our environment and waters. This important data will: help ships navigate safely through Arctic waters, monitor our ecosystems and assist first responders when disasters strike.”

Much like the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the RADARSAT Constellation satellites were launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. 

As of writing, Magellan is trading at an attractive 8.70 times forward earnings and below book value (0.40). If a new era of space exploration is indeed upon us, then companies like Magellan are well positioned to benefit.

Don't limit yourself to space exploration stocks. Here are several other interesting investment options.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Mat Litalien has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. The Motley Fool recommends MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES LTD.

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