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Why Novavax Shares Are Jumping Today

By George Budwell - Jan 23, 2020 at 11:19AM

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The vaccine maker's stock is getting a lift from a pair of catalysts this morning.

What happened

Shares of clinical-stage vaccine developer Novavax (NVAX -0.27%) are on the rise today, up 10.7% as of 10:22 a.m. EST. This double-digit move higher appears to be the result of two unrelated catalysts.

First, the deadly coronavirus that originated in China but has since spread to several other Asian countries, as well as to the United States, is likely playing a role. Novavax announced earlier this week that it is developing a vaccine indicated for the Wuhan strain of the virus. Second, Oppenheimer analyst Kevin DeGeeter released a positive note on Novavax's stock this morning, calling for the company's share price to hit $13 by 2021. DeGeeter's price target implies that Novavax's stock could appreciate 70% over the next 12 months.   

Scientist in lab looking at test tube containing red liquid

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

While it's certainly good news that Novavax feels that its vaccine platform is robust and flexible enough to respond to a rapidly emerging threat, the fact remains that the coronavirus outbreak is highly likely to be over by the time any vaccines reach the clinic. As such, there's no good reason to buy this biotech stock in response to this developing story. 

Rather, investors should probably focus solely on the biotech's upcoming late-stage data release for the flu vaccine candidate NanoFlu. This pivotal trial data could transform the company into a cash flow positive commercial-stage entity in short order, and perhaps attract a worthwhile buyout offer to boot. 

Now what

Is it time to buy? After yesterday's healthy pullback, it may indeed be time to initiate a position. Novavax's shares, after all, are currently trading for a small fraction of NanoFlu's commercial opportunity.

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