What happened

Shares of Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) were soaring 16.9% higher as of 11:25 a.m. EDT on Friday. This marked the second day in a row of solid gains for Novavax. The stock jumped 8.5% on Thursday after two analysts increased their price targets. Novavax also could have benefited from the publicity it received from a New York Times article published yesterday about how it won $1.6 billion in funding from the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed program.

So what

The laws of physics sometimes seem to apply to stocks, especially those that pertain to inertia and momentum. And Novavax currently has plenty of momentum. Any good news only adds to its head of steam. 

A scientist with a syringe and vaccine bottle

Image source: Getty Images.

It makes sense that investors cheered B. Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani's statement that Novavax is "likely to emerge as strongest among its peers." It's completely understandable why investors also applauded H.C. Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino's expressing his view that Novavax could capture 10% of a $10 billion COVID-19 vaccine market by 2023.

Even a somewhat negative article in The New York Times yesterday likely worked to Novavax's advantage. The article stated that "Novavax drew on influential ties it has cultivated in the federal government and close-knit global health community" to win its big award from Operation Warp Speed. However, it also highlighted Novavax's successful late-stage results for flu vaccine candidate NanoFlu. 

If you subscribe to the view that there's no such thing as bad publicity, Novavax won simply by being the feature of an article in one of the most influential newspapers in the U.S.

Now what

The biotech stock won't be able to keep its momentum going merely on bullish analysts' opinions and free publicity. Novavax must deliver results. The company hopes to accomplish that goal. It expects to announce results from a phase 1/2 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate later this month. If all goes well, Novavax should begin a pivotal late-stage study of the vaccine candidate in the fall.

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.