Shares of travel-related stocks jumped on Wednesday as the market got another round of good news about a COVID-19 vaccine. Shares of TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) jumped as much as 10.4%, Liberty TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:LTRPA) was up as much as 14.5%, Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) rose 8.8%, and Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE:PK) climbed up to 14.1% in trading today. Shares were up 9.4%, 13.8%, 7.8%, and 13.1%, respectively, at 3:10 p.m. EDT.
The biggest news that came out late yesterday was Moderna announcing positive results from its Phase 1 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine trial. The company will begin Phase 3 trials July 27 and hopes to have final approval to give the vaccine to people sometime later in 2020.
Moderna is the second big vaccine to move into Phase 3 trials, and management said it could produce 500 million or even 1 billion vaccine doses in 2021. That's an incredible pace of production and could get the global population to a much safer level with COVID-19 as people are vaccinated. The hope would be a safer population would be more willing to begin traveling again, as well.
Travel stocks aren't directly related to the advances in COVID-19 vaccines, but they will be one of the first beneficiaries when the vaccine is widely available. Not only will consumers start to travel again, but companies may also start to send employees on work trips and conferences, which drives mid-week revenue for travel companies. And if that recovery in business begins as early as fall 2020 when vaccines could be available, it would be a huge win for the industry.
Consumer discretionary spending has been hit hard by COVID-19, and these stocks have fallen as a result. And the market has been trying to determine when we may see a vaccine or treatment that would begin the travel industry on a path to normal.
Vaccines like Moderna's are a big step in that direction, and the fact that it was a U.S. trial may mean the U.S. gets its allocation of vaccines faster than the rest of the world, which would help travel stocks with a heavy focus on the U.S. or U.S. travelers.
While this is positive news overall, I don't think vaccine developments are a great reason to buy travel stocks today. That isn't to say it's bad news, but we still don't have an idea of when travelers will return. If you're bullish on the industry long term, this is a step in the right direction, but it isn't a reason to change your investment thesis today.