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Superior Covid-19 Vaccine Makes Moderna Stock a Buy, Say Analysts

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With winter at the gate and Covid-19 raging hard, the possibility the pandemic might soon be tamed got a further boost on Monday when Moderna (MRNA) announced interim data results for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273.

In a Phase 3 clinical trial, based on an interim analysis of 95 participants, mRNA-1273 exhibited a success rate of 94.5% in preventing the coronavirus. At the same time, the vaccine was well tolerated, and no meaningful safety concerns were reported.

Over the next few weeks, Moderna will file an EUA (emergency use authorization) with the FDA and by the end of the year Moderna expects to ship 20 million doses in the US. The biotech anticipates it will be able to produce between 500 million and 1 billion doses in 2021.

For Chardan analyst Geulah Livshits, the result “provides important validation of Moderna's specific mRNA and LNP technologies and positions the company to compete among major vaccine players.”

Moderna’s exceptional results follow last week’s impressive 90% success rate of Pfizer/BioNTech’s offering. However, as Livshits points out, it is not the only metric where Moderna is taking the lead.

“Notably,” the 5-star analyst said, “Moderna also announced today updated stability parameters, with mRNA-1273 now expected to remain stable under standard refrigeration temperatures for up to 30 days (vs. 7 days previously), and at room temperature for up to 12 hours. The vaccine can be shipped and stored at standard freezer temperatures (-20°C) for up to 6 months, which represents a distribution advantage over BioNTech/ Pfizer's candidate which will require shipping at -70°C.”

Oppenheimer analyst Hartaj Singh is even more bullish. The results surpassed the analyst’s forecast for a success rate between 70% and 80% and Singh calls the positive data the “culmination of great science and execution.”

Like Livshits, Singh highlights mRNA-1273’s ability to be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures.

Additionally, the analyst believes the “major milestone” could have a significant impact on Moderna’s other vaccine programs.

“As mRNA-1273 advances the broader vaccines pipeline and P&L, MRNA's leadership could extend further in this field (e.g., disrupting seasonal flu and innovating in CMV), and more broadly (toward other core modalities), where mRNA medicines have yet been untapped,” Singh noted.

To this end, the 5-star analyst reiterated an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating on MRNA, while boosting the price target from $108 to $157. The new figure implies 68% upside from current levels. (To watch Singh’s track record, click here)

Moderna has decent support from the rest of Street. Based on 9 Buys, 2 Holds and 1 Sell, the stock has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. At $107.33, the average price target suggests a 15% upside over the next months. (See MRNA stock analysis on TipRanks)

To find good ideas for coronavirus stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.