Novavax Inks Vaccine Deals In Japan, India; Analyst Sees 70% Stock Upside

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Novavax announced a partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical to sell up to 250 million doses of NVX‑CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a year in Japan.

As part of the partnership, Novavax (NVAX) will license COVID-19 vaccine technology to Takeda for local production and commercialization in Japan. In exchange, Novavax will receive payments based on the achievement of certain development and commercial milestones, as well as a portion of vaccine proceeds.

NVX-CoV2373 is a stable, prefusion protein made using Novavax’ recombinant protein nanoparticle technology and includes the company’s proprietary Matrix M adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

Takeda (TAK) said it will receive funding from the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to support the technology transfer and infrastructure and to scale-up of manufacturing.

“Takeda’s leading position in Japan, technical expertise, regulatory know-how and manufacturing capacity make the company an ideal partner to further expand the global availability of NVX-CoV2373,” said Novavax CEO Stanley C. Erck. “We look forward to collaborating with Takeda to rapidly develop, produce and commercialize the vaccine in Japan.”

In addition, Takeda will be responsible for regulatory submission to the MHLW and will produce and distribute NVX-CoV2373 in Japan.

Last week, Novavax disclosed that Phase 1 data from its Phase 1/2 randomized, placebo-controlled trial of NVX-CoV2373, showed “robust” virus neutralizing antibody responses. The early stage trial demonstrated that the experimental vaccine was generally well-tolerated and had a reassuring safety profile.

Separately, the biotech company announced the signing of a license and supply agreement with the Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) for the development and commercialization of NVX-CoV2373 in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and throughout India.

For LMICs and India, Novavax and SIIPL are partnering on clinical development, co-formulation, filling and finishing and commercialization of NVX-CoV2373. As part of the partnership, Novavax expects to supply a minimum of 1 billion doses of the potential vaccine for India and low- and middle-income countries.

SIIPL will be responsible for regulatory submissions and marketing authorizations. Novavax will provide SIIPL with both vaccine antigen and Matrix M adjuvant. The partners are in discussions to have SIIPL manufacture vaccine antigen in India. As part of the agreement, Novavax and SIIPL will split the revenue from products sales net of agreed costs.

The agreement excludes major upper-middle and high-income countries, for which Novavax continues to retain rights.

In the run-up to developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVAX has this year gone up almost 43 times in value. The vaccine candidate’s Phase 1 study results prompted H.C. Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino to raise his price target to a bullish $290 (70% upside potential) from $132 and reiterate a Buy rating. (See Novavax stock analysis on TipRanks).

“We look for the company to become a major player in vaccine development in the near future,” Bernardino wrote in a note to investors.

“There is upside potential to our projections, as our models assume: (1) a price per dose of $20, which is in line with the low end of prices recently negotiated by some of Novavax’ competitors for vaccine supplies they’ve agreed to provide to the US government; (2) distribution of approximately 137M doses worldwide in 2021; and (3) the potential for the dose-sparing effects of Matrix-M adjuvant to double the number of doses of NVX-CoV2373 that could be available,” the analyst said.

The rest of the Street has a cautiously optimistic outlook on the stock. The Moderate Buy analyst consensus shows 4 Buy ratings versus 1 Hold ratings. The $227.60 average price target now indicates 34% upside potential from current levels.

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