Moderna Stock Jumps on Better-Than-Expected 2023 Sales
Biotech company Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) has seen its stock price surge in recent weeks, and it was boosted by another catalyst on Monday when it presented relatively good news at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
Moderna stock was up more than 4% on Monday to roughly $115 per share, and it was the top stock on the S&P 500 both last week and last month. Last week, Moderna jumped 12.5% to lead all stocks on the large-cap benchmark, and it has returned 40.3% over the past month as of Jan. 8. That’s also the best among all stocks on the S&P 500.
Bad news, good news
The major catalyst Monday was a presentation Moderna officials gave at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, where they revealed surprisingly good sales numbers for 2023.
Known for its coronavirus vaccine, Moderna had seen its revenue steadily decline from its peak in 2022 as the number of vaccinations has dropped. In the third quarter, Moderna’s revenue was down about 45% year over year. As most of its revenue comes from its Spikevax COVID vaccine, investors were not only concerned about the company’s plunging revenue but also its future growth prospects.
However, the presentation at the conference was viewed as positive by investors, as Moderna’s COVID vaccine sales came in at $6.7 billion for 2023, which was better than its $6 billion revenue guidance after the third quarter. It was also better than analysts expected. However, Moderna’s overall revenue was still down big from 2022, when it sold about $18 billion in vaccines.
The company also said its market share for the COVID vaccine increased from 37% in 2022 to 48% in 2023.
Moderna predicts Even lower sales for the COVID vaccine in 2024, at around $4 billion, but it has a robust number of new products in the pipeline to boost revenue in the years ahead.
“We are preparing for the launch of Moderna’s second product, our RSV vaccine; 2024 is going to be an exciting year for the company with multiple milestones across our nine late-stage programs,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said at the conference. Through these product launches, we are focused on returning to sales growth in 2025.”
Cancer vaccine shows promise
Overall, the biotech firm has 45 therapeutic and vaccine programs in development, including nine that are considered late-stage.
The farthest along is a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, which Moderna expects to get all the necessary regulatory approvals for in the first half of the year. The RSV vaccine is expected to hit the market thereafter in 2024.
In addition, Moderna has a flu vaccine in late-stage development that “demonstrated consistently acceptable safety and tolerability across three Phase 3 trials.” It could also come out in the 2024-to-2025 time frame.
Over the past month, Moderna stock also got a major boost after it announced that a treatment it was working on with Merck and Co. (NYSE:MRK) for melanoma showed promising signs in a trial. Specifically, the trials revealed that the treatment reduced the risk of recurrence or death in high-risk melanoma patients by 49% after three years. It also reduced the risk of distant metastasis or death by 62%.
At the J.P. Morgan conference, Bancel also said Moderna and Merck plan to expand their clinical studies to additional tumor types in 2024.
On Jan. 2, Hartaj Singh, an analyst with Oppenheimer, upgraded Moderna stock to outperform, saying it could have five products by 2026, including the RSV vaccine, the flu vaccine and potentially the melanoma treatment with Merck, according to CNBC.
Thus, while the long-term prospects for Moderna look promising, don’t expect much from the stock in 2024 as COVID-jab sales should continue to go down. However, investors may want to stay tuned for more updates on these developments and the company’s earnings report on Feb. 22. It is definitely a stock worth watching.