Rocket Lab has reported a net loss for its March quarter that widened from the year-ago US$15.9 million to US$26.7m.
But revenue jumped to US$40.7m from the year-ago quarter's US$18.1m.
And on a conference call, founder and CEO Peter Beck emphasised that the firm's pipeline of forward bookings had increased by US$310m from the end of 2021 to US$510m.
The firm gave revenue guidance of US$51m - US$54m, with an adjusted operating earnings loss of US$3.5m to US$5.5m - an improvement from the first quarter's US$8.0m adjusted ebitda loss.
On a conference call, CFO Adam Spice said margins were lower than forecast due to higher than anticipated launch costs, and accounting factors tied to Rocket Lab's US$80m acquisition of New Mexico satellite solar panel maker SolAero - one of four North American companies acquired during a Rocket Lab spending spree over the past 24 months.
Although lower margin, SolAero will help Rocket Lab with its aim to diversify revenue beyond launches, Spice said.
Shares under pressure
Rocket Lab reverse-listed on the Nasdaq, through a special-purpose acquisition company deal, at US10.00 a share last August. It soared to US$21.35 per share, but has recently been caught in the Tech Wreck 2.0 market downdraft to a low of US$4.94.
Ahead of today's report, shares were trading at US$5.86 (for a market cap of US$2.5 billion).
In after-hours trading, the stock climbed 2.03 per cent to US$5.52.
"The macro market conditions aren't kind [but] the company continues to meet its guidance and grow strongly," Beck told the Herald on May 4.
"So we just have to ride out the macro market conditions. It's just the way it is."
Kiwi shareholders are keeping the faith, according to Sharesies co-founder and co-CEO Leighton Roberts.
"Over the last fortnight, Sharesies has seen buying of Rocket Lab shares outweighing the selling by around $1 million, Roberts told the Herald this morning.
"The business continues to be popular through Sharesies with nearly 20,000 shareholders, with 1763 buyers and with 214 sellers, over the last fortnight."
Rocket Lab has a busy period ahead.
Nasa's Capstone satellite has just arrived in Mahia, where Rocket Lab is due to blast into space, then ferry it to lunar orbit using a Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft later this month or in early June (the launch window opens on May 31). The Capstone mission - a historic first lunar launch from NZ story - will see Capstone put into an experimental orbit around the Moon as a trial for a planned small space station, which in turn is part of the US space agency's plan to return humans to the moon.
The Kiwi-American company recently expanded its launch capability by completing Launch Complex 2 in Virginia and adding a second launchpad to Launch Complex 1 at Mahia.
And Rocket Lab recently expanded its launch capability by completing Launch Complex 2 in Virginia (which has yet to stage its first flight) and adding a second launchpad to Launch Complex 1 at Mahia.
Beck said Rocket Lab already has the money to fast-track Neutron development if necessary. The new rocket is being developed by funds from the Kiwi-American company's Nasdaq listing, a $35m grant from the US military (with another US$70m in the offing), and a $69m subsidy from the US state of Virginia, which wil host the Neutron's manufacturing facility and mission control complex.
Beck said today the Virginia complex would create 250 high-end jobs. Following a series of acquisitions, a majority of Rocket Lab's 1500 staff are now based in the US.
The Rocket Lab CEO said last month that his company had planned to launch one re-usable Neutron rocket in 2024. It is now assessing whether to increase that to three, given that the Ukraine crisis has sidelined Russia's Soyuz. Beck said such an accelerated production schedule could be accommodated under current funding.
Rocket Lab's most recent launch saw a helicopter grab a falling Electron booster in mid-air - only to drop it 40 seconds later. Beck said his firm will analyse results before attempting another mid-air retrieval (read: "We got a bit wetter than we wanted" - Beck).