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Moderna stock jumps after Oppenheimer upgrade on pipeline potential

Moderna stock jumps after Oppenheimer upgrade on pipeline potential

Artur Widak | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Shares of Moderna closed more than 13% higher on Tuesday after Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to “outperform,” saying the Covid vaccine maker could market five products by 2026.

The upgrade follows a dismal 2023 for Moderna, whose only commercially available product is its Covid shot. The company’s stock has long been tied to its vaccine, and its shares fell nearly 45% last year as demand for Covid products plummeted worldwide. 

Oppenheimer analyst Hartaj Singh said the company’s Covid sales could hit a low point in 2024 due to factors such as vaccine fatigue. But the firm expects Covid vaccine sales to rise in 2025 and beyond as education about Covid and spending on awareness about the disease increase.

Singh was even more upbeat about Moderna’s pipeline potential, highlighting a handful of possible product launches over the next 12 to 18 months that could boost sales in 2025. 

That includes a potential approval this year for Moderna’s experimental vaccine that aims to protect older adults from respiratory syncytial virus, which typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms but more severe cases in seniors and children.

The company has said that the Food and Drug Administration will make a decision on its RSV vaccine in April. 

Moderna’s experimental flu vaccine could also win approval in 2024 or 2025, Singh said. In September, the company said its shot produced a stronger immune response against four strains of the virus than a currently available flu vaccine in a late-stage trial. 

Singh also said Moderna could file for FDA approval of its experimental personalized cancer vaccine in 2024 or 2025. The company may apply under the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway, which allows for expedited approval of drugs that treat serious conditions and fill what the agency calls an “unmet medical need” based on a specific clinical trial metric.

Moderna and its partner Merck are currently studying the shot in combination with Merck’s blockbuster therapy Keytruda for the treatment of patients with a deadly skin cancer called melanoma and other cancers. 

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Also on Tuesday, Moderna reiterated in a shareholder letter that it expects to see sales growth in 2025. The company highlighted its RSV vaccine and the possible approval for its combination shot targeting Covid and the flu, which could come “as early as 2025.”

Moderna in its third-quarter earnings release in November said it expects revenue to fall to $4 billion in 2024 before it grows again in 2025. The company expects to “break even” in 2026. The company also said in November that it would only hit the low end of its sales forecast of $6 billion to $8 billion for 2023, reflecting weaker demand for Covid vaccines.

Moderna has also said it plans to launch up to 15 products in the next five years — a goal it first outlined during its annual research and development day in September.

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Correction: Moderna shares fell nearly 45% last year. An earlier version misstated the percentage.

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