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Moderna, which has seen its stock surge 250% over the past year as it helps vaccinate the world from the coronavirus, will officially enter the S&P 500 on July 21.
The news sent shares popping more than 8% to $282 in Friday's session as the stock will likely be purchased by fund managers who benchmark to the S&P 500. But Jefferies analyst Michael Yee tells Yahoo Finance Live he thinks the run in Moderna stock (MRNA) is far from done.
"Moderna is the Tesla of biotech," says Yee, pointing to Moderna's impressive pipeline of product innovation.
Yee sees at least two medium-term catalysts for Moderna's stock price. First are the potential for COVID-19 booster shots out of Moderna, which could be discussed by management when the company reports earnings on Aug. 5.
"We see 2021 guidance increasing to $21 billion from $19 billion and expect positive commentary around boosters in development (potentially Delta next) and preparing for 2022 orders," Yee writes in a research note to clients. Yee believes the stockpiling of COVID-19 booster shots by the government would be a tailwind to players such as Moderna and Pfizer.
Meanwhile, Yee thinks investors shouldn't sleep on Moderna's efforts on flu vaccines.
"While the boosting [booster shot] debate will continue for the rest of the year, we do think the market will look to Phase I flu data by year-end. We think COVID infections probably start to rise again in winter as some protection wears down 6 [million]-8 million from March, but they will likely be mild. But Moderna is testing a multivalent influenza vaccine and has antibody titer data by year-end. We think this data will look very strong (very high titers) — and supports large Phase II/III in 2022/2023 for high PoS," Yee says.
The analyst has a $250 price target on Moderna's stock, but an upside target of $325.
"Our upside scenario of $325 considers high probabilities of success for each of the major areas and indications (vs. the base case)," explains Yee. "In this scenario, we assume MRNA's clinical candidates produce better-than-expected results in their ongoing programs, the prophylactic vaccine areas are significantly de-risked toward 90% PoS, and the cancer programs show positive early data, opening up a new area of R&D opportunity. We also note the potential for stock accretion on the race for Vaccine 2.0 against emerging COVID-19 variants."
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