Vaxart (VXRT -6.51%) was a micro-cap stock at the beginning of 2020. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and market optimism about Vaxart's oral vaccine platform, the stock took off last year, running up 15 times in value. Is it still a buy, or are there warning signs?
In a Motley Fool Live segment recorded on Jan. 15, 2021, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Taylor Carmichael discuss Vaxart and how the stock might do in 2021.
Corinne Cardina: Vaxart. I think this is one that people have become familiar with that emerged from obscurity because of the pandemic. Its investigational product is an oral COVID-19 vaccine in a tablet form. Had pretty strong pre-clinical results. It's enrolled participants in the phase 1 trial. Up 1,530% in 2020, almost $700 million market cap. Taylor, really quickly because we only have a couple of more minutes here. What is a green flag and a red flag? What do we think about Vaxart?
Taylor Carmichael: Well, the green flag for Vaxart is they're doing an oral pill for vaccination for COVID-19, and if it works, sky's the limit, it's going to be an amazing stock because oral pills are just better than shots. That's the green flag. There are a lot of red flags for Vaxart. I've become more bearish since I've done more research into Vaxart. Six months ago, they did a primate study. Operation Warp Speed, OWS, asked them to get some drugs to do a primate study. So they did a primate study six months ago, and we haven't heard anything about that study. Operation Warp Speed hasn't given them any money, hasn't pre-ordered any pills or done anything which they've done for a lot of these other vaccine companies. They haven't done any of that with Vaxart, so my suspicion would be that that primate study was disappointing. Now Vaxart's talking about their hamster data and I'm like, what happened with the primate study? Primates are closer to us than mice or hamsters. And we don't know, they haven't said anything. That would be my concern about that. The company is also being investigated by the SEC and the US Attorney's Office in California for hyping their relationship with OWS six months ago. That would be another concern. I have a few concerns about Vaxart. They are in the middle of their phase 1 trial in people, so if they have positive data there, the upside is very high. But I would be concerned about that animal study that we've never seen data and it's six months later.