2021 was undoubtedly a rollercoaster year for Apple, Tesla, and Virgin Galactic. A number of events throughout the year pushed their share prices to all-time highs only to send them plunging back down again. Let's recall what was going on with these corporations, and how their stock reacted to the various events.

App Store loses its monopoly and is ordered to alter its business model

In September 2021, noticeable pressure from antimonopoly regulators of several countries forced Apple to change its App Store payment rules. As of 2022, apps that provide a system of subscriptions on the content will be allowed to redirect users to links on their websites.

This will enable users to pay for their subscriptions directly on the said websites, sparing developers of the App Store the current commission fee of 15-30% per purchase made by app users.

On 10 September 2021, the court judged that Apple was not a monopolist; yet it ordered the company to ease its App Store rules by allowing mobile app developers – including online game developers – to use their own in-app payment systems. Developers can now include links in their apps to direct customers to other payment methods.

Apple ATT impacts advertising in social networks

In October 2021, Facebook, Snap, and Twitter demonstrated that changes in the Apple privacy policy – ATT (App Tracking Transparency) – had an adverse effect on the advertising business in social networking systems.

With the official Cupertino version, the updates are aimed at increasing the transparency of tracking users' personal data collected by apps.

Nonetheless, it looks like Apple is attempting to gain a privileged position in the ads market, which amounts to $350 billion a year. It should be noted that ATT limits the amount of personal data collected by social networks, which undermines the quality of targeted ads.

Apple shares reached all-time highs

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock grew almost 9% to $165.3 in autumn 2021. However, the high of $171.18 was reached on 7 December 2021. Credits must be given to a Morgan Stanley analyst, Katy Huberty.

She raised Apple's expected share price from $164 to $200, explaining that the corporation is taking up new segments of augmented and virtual reality, as well as autonomous transport. Huberty believes that by 2026, Apple's revenue from the new products and services in the areas of AR, VR, and AV will amount to $29 billion.

At the time when this article was prepared, the shares of the IT giant were at $179.38. Since January 2021, they have seen a 35% growth.

2021 – an adventurous year for Tesla

In 2021, the net profit of the most expensive car-maker on the globe reached the high for three consecutive quarters: Q1 – $438 million (+2,638%), Q2 – $1.14 billion (998%), Q3 – $1.62 billion (389%).

The profit growth of Elon Musk's company is driven by the sales of ZEV credits and also due to the sky-rocketing sales of all-electric cars: Q1 – 184,877 (109%), Q2 – 201,304 (121%), Q3 – 241,391 (73%).

Tesla's market capitalisation rises over $1 trillion for the first time in its history

In October 2021, Tesla reported the largest order ever received. The Hertz car rental service contracted for the purchase of 100,000 electric cars – mostly Model 3.

Consequently, on 25 October 2021, Tesla stock (NASDAQ: TSLA) leaped up 12.66% to $1024.86. This made Tesla's market capitalisation rise over $1 trillion.

Investigation against Tesla

On 16 August 2021, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system. The purpose of the NHTSA investigation was to evaluate the safety of the autopiloting systems of the all-electric cars produced by the company between 2014 and 2021.

On 6 December 2021, we heard about another investigation into Tesla by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over solar panel defect allegations. The regulator intends to find out whether Tesla had failed to notify shareholders and customers about the potential fire risks involved with solar panel systems produced by Tesla's subsidiary, SolarCity, which were claimed to be defective.

Elon Musk sells Tesla shares

Since November 2021, Musk has sold 15.6 million of Tesla shares for about $16.4 billion. He is planning to offload about 17 million shares to pay $11 billion in taxes, trimming his Tesla holding by another 10%.

On 29 December 2021, the share price of Tesla stock was $1086.19. In 2021, Tesla stock has seen a 54% growth.

Ups and downs of Virgin Galactic shares

On 22 May 2021, Richard Branson's company completed the first successful SpaceShipTwo flight since February 2019. As a result, the share price of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) surged 27.62% to $26.89.

On June 25 2021, Virgin Galactic was granted permission by the US Federal Aviation Administration to take passengers on board spaceships. This made the shares of the holding leap up 38.87% to $55.91.

First passenger flight by Virgin Galactic

The first passenger flight by Virgin Galactic was launched on 11 July 2021. However, the expected sky-rocketing of the shares never happened because the company announced it was planning to issue 10 million normal shares and get $500 million for them – only one day after reaching space. In consequence, the news about the additional offloading made the shares drop minutes after the announcement, falling 30% to $37.76 over two days.

Cooperation with the Italian Air Forces and bans on flights

On 2 September 2021, the air-cosmic corporation announced that it would embark on a research mission in October 2021, sending to space representatives of the Italian Air Forces.

However, on the same day, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) started an investigation against Virgin Galactic and put a temporary ban on its flights. The regulator was checking whether the spaceship Unity-22 broke the borders of the provided air corridor on 11 July 2021.

On 29 September 2021, the FAA lifted the ban on Virgin Galactic suborbital flights, thereby completing the investigation. As a result, the shares surged 25% to $25.3 over two days.

Virgin Galactic postpones commercial space flights for a year

On 14 October 2021, we heard that the launch of Virigin Galactic's commercial space flights is delayed to October-December 2022. The changes in the timetable are due to maintenance and improvement processes on the VSS Unity spaceship and VMS Eve carrier ship.

Virgin Galactic reported planning a test flight with Italian Air Force representatives soon after the enhancement programme for the spaceships is over. The shares of the company dropped 17% to $20.01. Since then, Virgin Galactic stock lost 46% more, reaching $13.04.

Summing up

In 2021, Apple lost its monopoly on the App Store, won the court battle with Epic Games, changed its privacy policy, and saw its shares reach an all-time high. Apple shares saw a 35% growth in 2021.

Tesla reported an all-time high quarterly profit three times, its market capitalisation rose over $1 trillion for the first time, and its CEO sold 15.6 million of the shares over two months. Since January 2021, Tesla shares have seen a 54% increase.

Virgin Galactic organised the first passenger flight to space, solved some issues with the FAA, contracted with the Italian Air Forces for the first commercial mission, and postponed the space flights launch to 2022. In 2021, Virgin Galactic shares fell 45%.

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