What happened

Dynavax Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:DVAX), an early commercial-stage vaccine maker, had an extremely rough 2019. Specifically, the biotech's shares lost a staggering 37.5% of their value last year, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

So what

Dynavax's stock took a beating in 2019 for two major reasons. First off, the company decided to jettison its promising oncology program. The move was reportedly made in order to beef up the commercial launch of the company's hepatitis B vaccine, Heplisav-B. Prior to this strategic decision, though, some shareholders were hoping that the company's cancer assets would attract a deep-pocketed partner -- or perhaps even a buyout offer.

A businessman with a laptop folded over his hand while holding a sign that reads "help" in red capital letters.

Image source: Getty Images.

Secondly, former CEO Eddie Gray decided to retire at the start of last August -- a move that came seemingly out of the blue. Even though Dynavax arguably needed a fresh start after the sluggish start to Heplisav's commercial launch, Gray's departure did come at a critical time in the company's life cycle. Wall Street didn't take kindly to this executive departure.  

Now what

Can Dynavax's stock rebound in 2020? Although Heplisav's sales are projected to nearly double this year, there's a strong case to be made that this anticipated jump in annual revenue is already baked into the biotech's valuation at this point.

As proof, Dynavax's shares are currently trading at a stately 6.8 times 2020 estimated revenue. That's a sky-high valuation for a biotech with only one approved product on the market. Investors may want to look elsewhere for more compelling growth opportunities. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.