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Why Moderna Was So Volatile on Thursday

By Eric Volkman – Sep 17, 2020 at 6:54PM

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Investors were trying to find their footing with the stock after a series of updates.

What happened

Moderna (MRNA 0.98%) was a roller-coaster stock on Thursday, at one point trading 3% higher, then as much as 6% lower, before settling in for a 1.3% loss at the end of the day.

A business update and several fresh pieces of news, released on the company's annual "R&D Day," left the market wondering whether such developments were collectively positive or negative for the high-profile biotech.

So what

Moderna said that its mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine candidate could win emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration as soon as the end of this year. If that happens, it said, it will be prepared to produce millions of doses of the vaccine. Moderna added that it has enrolled 25,296 participants for mRNA-1273's current phase 3 study, well within reach of its 30,000 goal.

Doctor writing on a patient's medical chart, with the patient in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Moderna also announced two new research programs; one with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 3.16%) concerning gene editing treatments for patients who suffer from cystic fibrosis, and the other with Italy-based Chiesi to explore using its messenger RNA (mRNA)-based approach to battle pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Now what

Moderna stands to reap as much as $455 million in the Vertex collaboration, and $425 million for the Chiesi arrangement; neither figure counts potential royalties from sales.

However, investors might be concerned that the company is losing focus on developing mRNA-1273. After all, it's not only the most important project for it as a company, it's the most important for the health of the world just now.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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