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Moderna Beats Earnings Estimates. The Stock Is Up.

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Shares of biotech Moderna have been sliding since August.


Moderna

beat earnings estimates Thursday and announced a $3 billion share buyback.

Moderna Thursday reported revenues for the fourth quarter of 2021 of $7.2 billion, beating the FactSet consensus estimate of $6.8 billion, and diluted earnings of $11.29 per share, beating the FactSet consensus estimates of $9.96 per share.

On an investor call, Moderna’s (ticker: MRNA) chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Burton, said that the company “firmly” believes a fourth Covid-19 vaccine booster dose will be necessary by the fall of this year.

“While we are hopeful that we are about to enter a period of relative stability in the Northern Hemisphere, we believe firmly that a vaccine booster dose will be required for the fall of 2022 to provide ongoing protection against this virus,” Burton said.

The Food and Drug Administration has so far only authorized a first round of Covid-19 vaccine boosting, though some countries, including the U.K., have begun to offer a fourth dose to some populations. On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA is considering authorizing a fourth dose for this fall.

On the Moderna call, Burton highlighted data from U.K. health authorities, which he said showed that vaccine protection against hospitalization caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant waned over time. He said that a booster given in late 2022 would need to protect specifically against the Delta and Omicron variants.

Later in the call, the company’s president, Dr. Stephen Hoge, said that a booster for this fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere would be needed to boost waning antibody levels to protect older adults and the immunocompromised against breakthrough hospitalization.

Hoge said that the company is testing various different booster strategies for the fall, including a booster that would mix the original vaccine with an Omicron-specific booster,

Company executives argued that the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 will be an endemic, seasonal virus in 2023 and beyond.

Shares of Moderna have been sliding since August. Last November, Moderna announced third-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations, sending shares down sharply. As of the close of trading on Wednesday, the stock was down 72% since its peak in early August.

The fourth-quarter earnings paint a stronger picture. Moderna closed 2021 with $18.5 billion in revenue, and net income of $12.2 billion. The company had cash and investments of $17.6 billion, a substantial war chest that Barron’s has said will be essential to enable the company to compete with the established vaccine makers as the acute phase of the pandemic eases.

Last week, Moderna announced new experimental vaccines to prevent herpes and shingles, and a new cancer vaccine program.

Moderna said that it delivered 807 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021. In the fourth quarter, it delivered 45 million doses to the U.S., and 252 million to the rest of the world.

Additionally, the company said that its market share had increased in recent months. It said that its share of the booster market in the U.S. was 45% in February, up from 27% in October. In Canada, its share of the booster market was 43% in February, up from 34% in October.

The company said it has signed advanced purchase agreements of $19 billion for 2022, up from the $18.5 billion it had disclosed in early January, and said that “numerous discussions” for late 2022 and 2023 were still ongoing with governments.

Shares were up 5.4% in premarket trading Thursday.

Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at josh.nathan-kazis@barrons.com

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