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Should Investors Worry About Moderna's Vaccine Delays?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Feb 23, 2021 at 6:15AM

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The short answer: No.

Moderna (MRNA) recently announced that it's run into some problems shipping some doses of its COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273. However, the company stated that these should only be short-term issues. In this Motley Fool Live video, recorded on Feb. 17, contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not investors should worry about the potential impact of these delays.

Keith Speights: One of the big COVID stories came from Moderna. Moderna announced yesterday that its contract manufacturer, Catalent (CTLT), experienced some what they call short-term delays in releasing some doses of the COVID vaccine, mRNA-1273. Brian, is this a problem for Moderna that might impact its stock performance with these delays?

Brian Orelli: Yeah, I don't think, except that it's richly valued, and so it'd be minor problem, might be an issue, but in terms of selling they're going to sell everything that they can make, whether they sell it today, or a week from now, or a month from now, it doesn't really matter, they're going to sell at all.

Does it really matter in terms of revenue? No, it's just a timing issue. The problem, I guess is Catalent is their fill and finish contractor. That will be Moderna's actually making the drug and Catalent is a little just putting it in vials, slapping labels on it, getting ready to ship out.

There's some issue in that process, they didn't say what it was, but it seems to be a minor issue and they even think they're going to be able to meet their monthly delivery targets. It seems it's really is a short, short-term delay.

They still expect to deliver 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter, and then Moderna even moved up their projected delivery time for the second set of 100 million doses. It was coming in June, but now they'll be able to finish it by May, and then the third 100 million doses which recently got ordered is now supposed to be filled by the end of July.

Speights: So assuming Moderna is correct on their projections, this really is a short-term issue. They're even looking at beating their schedules later in the summer, and so no reason to think this is going to be anything but a very quick blip for them, at least at this point, I guess if more problems emerge, then that's a different story. But you did mention that this probably won't impact its stock, but the bigger issue is just the stock's valuation.

Orelli: Yeah, exactly. I mean, in the short term the valuation is going to be all over the place because everybody's trying to figure out exactly how long they're going to be able to sell the COVID-19 vaccine. They can only sell it for one season, then it's obviously a completely different valuation than if it sell forever, as a completely different valuations in somewhere in between where they sell it for two or three years.

Speights: Yeah. The last I looked, Brian, Moderna, their market cap is around $70 billion. That's a lot higher than well-established biotechs. Regeneron, Biogen have much lower market caps than Moderna does, and these are companies that have blockbuster products on the market, they've been in business for years, they have pipelines with other candidates on the way. That puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Orelli: Yeah. Moderna has a nice pipeline, but I think it's been richly valued based on that fact that they're going to maybe do 10, 20 billion in sales of the COVID-19 vaccine, and then the question is just how long will it last. If it lasts forever, then it's probably undervalued. It's reasonably valued right now where if it's not going to last forever, then it's probably overvalued.

Speights: Yeah, I think they're looking at the prospects of maybe $15 billion or so in sales this year. You look at that 70 billion market cap, 15 billion in sales, the price-to-sales ratio isn't that bad for a biotech stock. But you're right, the question is will that revenue be recurring? At this point, there's a good chance it will be, but we really just don't know.

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Stocks Mentioned

Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Biogen Inc. Stock Quote
Biogen Inc.
Catalent, Inc. Stock Quote
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