The Small-Cap Stock Dominating Space Flight

Space: The final business frontier.

The necessity of global communications and defense along with the advent of commercial space programs is changing the way businesses look at opportunities beyond Earth.

Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are already involved in private spaceflight. While the industry is still in its infancy, exploration is becoming evermore the realm of private enterprise rather than government. From deep space exploration to running supplies to the International Space Station, companies are building businesses around space travel.

Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE: ORB) is doing just that, with a diversified aerospace and defense portfolio.

The company is small-cap developer of rockets, spacecraft and satellites. It has segments in both missile defense and commercial enterprises, putting the company on the leading edge of the new frontier. It’s Antares and Cygnus spacecraft are major re-suppliers for the International Space Station, and its clientele include NASA, the Department of Defense and various private companies.

Sales over the trailing twelve months were $1.34 billion, while Orbital has a backlog of more than $5 billion. This essentially means that the company has revenues already earned for the next three years and then some. Profit and operating margins have been steadily climbing over the past several years, while debt has been decreasing. The company raised earnings estimates earlier this month from  $1.11 per share to $1.14 per share.

The stock looks fundamentally strong — earnings per share growth next year are estimated to be more than 23%, compared to 10% this year. The company has done a good job of managing debt as well. Long-term debt liabilities are only $135 million, while cash holdings are more than $265 million, giving the company plenty of liquidity. It carries a total debt-to-equity ratio of just 0.17, compared Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (NYSE: LMT) ratio of 1.43.

While competitors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) have cheaper valuations, Orbital has the fastest long-term growth — 15% compared to 10% and 11%, respectively.

Orbital is also one of only two suppliers to the International Space Station — the other being a joint operation between privately owned SpaceX and The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA).

Recently, YahSat, an United Arab Emirates-owned satellite operations company, signed on with Orbital to build and expand its Al Yah 3 communications satellites that will provide broadband coverage to 600 million users in Brazil and Africa.

Risks To Consider: The nature of launching rockets and satellites into space gives rise to unique risks that could negatively impact earnings through delays and launch scrubs. The majority of Orbitals’ contracts are derived from the government as well, which is reliant on future funding levels being approved to fulfill orders. Keep in mind: Orbital also sits in the small-cap space, which has been home to extreme volatility over the past few weeks.

Action To Take –> The stock, along with the overall market, has dipped down over the past few days giving investors a chance to buy this stock cheap. Based on future earnings per share growth estimates, Orbital’s stock should be fairly-valued at around $35 per share — a 29% discount from current prices.

Companies, not governments, venturing into space is a game-changer. Looking for more investment ideas like this? StreetAuthority has an entire newsletter devoted to this very theme: Game-Changing Stocks. In fact, we just released a new report detailing the “Hottest Investment Opportunities For 2015.” For more information about the next company that will move the markets and change the world, click here.