What happened

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) were soaring 14.6% as of 11:02 a.m. EDT after jumping as much as 19.5% earlier in the day. This marked the third consecutive day of big gains for Inovio. What's behind the impressive momentum? Investors remain excited about comments made by Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim at the H.C. Wainwright 22nd Annual Global Investment Conference on Monday.

So what

Kim made two statements at the Wainwright conference that fired up investors. First, he said that a paper with detailed results of the phase 1 study of coronavirus vaccine candidate INO-4800 is currently in peer review and should be published within the next several weeks. Second, Kim stated that Inovio expects to begin phase 2/3 testing for the investigational vaccine soon and is "very confident that we will be able to do this with external funding."

Yellow sticky note with a drawing of a coronavirus and a chalk drawing of a dollar sign underneath it

Image source: Getty Images.

Some industry observers were skeptical about Inovio's interim results for the early-stage study of INO-4800 announced on June 30. The biotech didn't provide all of the details about immune responses in participants that they were hoping to hear. The forthcoming peer-reviewed publication could put those concerns to rest.

But the news investors really liked was that Inovio expects to obtain external funding for its phase 2/3 testing of INO-4800. Some are no doubt speculating that Inovio could receive federal funding from Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government program established to accelerate coronavirus vaccine development. 

Now what

Despite this week's huge gains, Inovio's shares are still around 50% below its peak set in late June. However, the biotech stock could have multiple catalysts on the way that could enable it to move a lot higher. Federal funding for INO-4800 would especially provide a huge boost for the stock and tremendous validation for Inovio's coronavirus program. For now, though, investors have to, in the words of CEO Joseph Kim, "stay tuned" for what happens next.

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.