What happened?

Shares of Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) rose sharply on Thursday, ending the day up by 8.5% after the company received a couple of nods of approval from Wall Street analysts. 

So what

Novavax has been on a tear all year long thanks to its efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine. And with the company recently joining the government's Operation Warp Speed, many consider the biotech one of the front-runners in the hunt for a vaccine. As a result of these factors, B. Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani reiterated a buy rating on Novavax's stock and raised his price target to $155, from $106. The analyst believes Novavax is "likely to emerge as strongest among peers."

Elsewhere, H.C. Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino also raised his price target for Novavax to $132 (up from $101) and reiterated a buy rating. The analyst believes that the market for a COVID-19 vaccine could reach a peak of $10 billion by 2023, and he thinks Novavax could grab a 10% share of this market.

Letter blocks spelling the word "bullish."

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Year to date, shares of Novavax are up by a whopping 2,930%. And although some investors might be tempted to take their profits and leave, if these analysts are right, the company still has a lot of upside left. With that said, though, investors should consider that the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine is crowded. Novavax will have to impress investors if it is to continue on its upward trajectory. 

The biotech is currently running a phase 1/2 clinical trial for its investigational vaccine, NVX-CoV2373. Novavax expects to publish the results of this study before the end of July. If these results are positive, the stock will see even more gains. But Novavax could come crashing down if it fails to impress investors when it releases the study's data. In short, despite the potential upside, Novavax's stock remains risky.