Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN -0.83%) made headlines recently after President Trump, diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month, took the biotech's investigational treatment. Trump, who also took other experimental medications for the illness, went on to call Regeneron's antibody cocktail "a cure." And he said he would help bring the treatment to Americans as quickly as possible.
Now, investors might be wondering whether they should buy shares of Regeneron before the presidential election. Will a Trump victory be better news for the company than a victory by Democratic challenger Joe Biden? Or will Biden's plan to conquer the coronavirus outbreak also equal strong support for Regeneron? Let's take a closer look at the situation.
Regeneron provided Trump with its cocktail after a "compassionate use" request. That's because the treatment, known as REGN-COV2, isn't yet authorized or approved. It's still involved in a combined phase 1/2/3 trial. Interim study results showed the treatment reduced viral load and symptoms in non-hospitalized patients. REGN-COV2 is also being studied in hospitalized patients and in virus prevention.
Applying for Emergency Use Authorization
A few days after Trump's treatment, Regeneron applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Regeneron said it currently has doses for 50,000 patients and, in a few months, will have doses for a total of 300,000 patients. If the FDA grants an EUA, the government has promised to make the treatment free to Americans and manage distribution.
Biden hasn't spoken specifically about Regeneron's investigational product. But the Democratic candidate has outlined his plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including an emphasis on "science-based treatments and vaccines" as one of the five main elements. Biden also says politics shouldn't be involved in determining product efficacy and vows to "put scientists in charge" of safety and efficacy decisions.
So, which candidate may be more advantageous? For the long-term Regeneron investor, it won't matter who wins the election. That is because the FDA is in charge of REGN-COV2's fate -- not the president.
Praise from Trump
It's clear that praise from Trump -- or even potentially Biden if he wins the race -- can lift a stock in the short term. After Trump's Tweet, Regeneron rose as much as 4% in the next trading session. But supportive words from the country's leader don't equal regulatory authorization or approval. And that's the key point here. The FDA has reiterated that it does not bend to political pressure when considering a drug candidate. While positive words from Trump may lift the share price for a day or two, ultimately, they are meaningless.
What is meaningful is financial or logistic support from the government to move programs forward. For instance, Operation Warp Speed, a government effort to help bring coronavirus vaccines and treatments to market, granted Regeneron $450 million in funding in July. Biden promises to invest $25 billion in a manufacturing and distribution plan to bring vaccines to Americans. Those are positive elements for any company in the vaccine or treatment race.
Should you buy Regeneron?
Now, back to our initial question: Should you buy Regeneron shares before the election? It's possible that the stock performance will be a little rocky in the coming weeks. That happens whenever there is uncertainty ahead -- an election is a perfect example. This represents an opportunity to scoop up great companies for a lower price.
Long-term investors may want to take advantage of any share weakness before or after the election to take a position in Regeneron. Considering data so far, the antibody cocktail seems promising. If Regeneron secures an EUA, the shares will surely head higher. What happens if the company doesn't receive the EUA? The shares may slip in the near term. But that doesn't change my optimism about Regeneron.
Thanks to marketed products like blockbuster eye drug Eylea, the biotech company has posted annual revenue growth since 2012. Regeneron has also built a pipeline of more than 30 programs. That means a purchase of Regeneron shares -- before or after Nov. 3 -- is likely to pay off in the long run.