Categories Health Care

Moderna (MRNA) ships coronavirus vaccine candidate for trials, shares hit a peak

Shares of Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) soared to a record high of $29.98 on Wednesday after shipping the first coronavirus vaccine candidate to the National Institutes of Health for clinical trials. However, market experts remain concerned over the time required for the vaccine to reach the public, even if it clears the trials.

In January, the company announced a collaboration to develop a coronavirus vaccine following a positive phase 1 data readout for the cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine. The company has shifted its focus towards the coronavirus. Moderna expects the initial clinical trial to start by late April with the drug’s efficacy results likely to be available by July or August.

vaccine syringe and vial
Image for representation. Courtesy: CDC on Unsplash

Quarterly Performance

For the fourth quarter, Moderna reported a narrower loss helped by lower operating expenses. The top line dropped by 60% due to lower collaboration revenue across all strategic alliances, particularly AstraZeneca and Merck. Research and development expenses fell by 21% due to a decrease in in-licensing payments to Cellscript, LLC and its affiliate, and a reduction of lab supplies and materials costs.

As of December 31, 2019, the company had total cash of $1.26 billion while the total debt stood at $33.8 million. The company has up to $2 billion to invest, including cash and investments, financing proceeds and potentially available grants.

Till now, Moderna does not have any approved vaccines or treatments but currently has 24 messenger RNA development candidates in its portfolio with 12 in clinical studies. The company is likely to be beneficial in the future as there is no approved vaccine for novel coronavirus.

Stock Movement

The stock has been trading between $11.54 and $29.98 in the past 52 weeks. The shares are above the 50-day moving average of $20.34 and the 200-day moving average of $17.84. The shares have risen over 104% in the past six months as investors remained positive about the clinical-stage biotech company’s future growth prospects.

Read: Intercept Pharmaceuticals Q4 earnings snapshot

The market analysts were bullish on the stock with an average price target of $29.25. The investors and institutional funds have taken the tip from the analysts as the three-month average share volume of 4.5 million has risen to 14.56 million of average volume for 10 days. The demand for the stock keeps on increasing.

Global Pandemic

China has reported a slump in the new cases but a sudden rise in cases in South Korea and Italy made it a global pandemic. Globally, there were more than 81,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with South Korea remaining the worst affected outside China.

The stock market has been feeling the pressure from the coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday, the stocks ended lower for the fourth straight day, which was sparked by the rising number of cases outside of China.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday labeled the virus as a “serious public health threat” as it is likely to spread to the US. The public health officials warn Americans about potential disruption if the virus starts spreading and suggests asking schools and workplaces about contingency plans.

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