Moderna (MRNA 13.53%) has announced its financial results every quarter since going public in late 2018. But the biotech didn't have a product on the market during any of those updates. Until now.

The company reported its fourth-quarter results before the market opened on Thursday. For the first time, those results included product sales. Here are the highlights from Moderna's Q4 update.

COVID-19 vaccine vials and syringe on top of cash

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Moderna announced revenue of $570.7 million in the fourth quarter. In the prior-year period, the biotech's revenue totaled $14.1 million. The average analyst estimate projected Q4 revenue of $279.4 million.

The company posted a Q4 net loss of $272 million, or $0.69 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Moderna's net loss in the same period of 2019 was $123 million, or $0.37 per share. The Wall Street consensus was for a net loss of $0.35 per share.

Moderna ended the fourth quarter with cash, cash equivalents, and investments of $5.25 billion. This was a significant increase from the company's cash position of $1.26 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Behind the numbers

As in the past, most of Moderna's revenue in the fourth quarter stemmed from grants. The company reported $341.4 million in grant revenue, much of this amount coming from an award from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Another $29.5 million in revenue came from collaboration deals.

However, Moderna also reported product sales of $199.9 million in Q4 from COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273. It recognized revenue from the vaccine beginning in December 2020 after receiving U.S. and Canadian emergency use authorization (EUA).

Despite the enormous year-over-year revenue growth, Moderna's bottom line went in the wrong direction because of increased spending. Research and development expenses soared 543% to $759 million due primarily to mRNA-1273 clinical development and an inventory buildup before the U.S. EUA was issued. Selling, general, and administrative expenses more than tripled year over year to $79 million, mainly because of increased personnel costs and outside services.

Looking ahead

Some investors might have been concerned about Moderna's announcement earlier in February of a delay in manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine doses. However, that's just a temporary issue. The company now expects to manufacture at least 700 million doses instead of a low estimate of 600 million doses this year, and has the potential to supply up to 1 billion doses.

Moderna shouldn't have any problems selling every dose it can make. The company has secured supply agreements so far for nearly 800 million doses. And that total doesn't include undisclosed volumes in its supply deals with Singapore and Qatar.

Could the biotech stock lose steam after this year? That doesn't appear likely. Moderna plans to increase its production capacity for mRNA-1273 to 1.4 billion doses in 2022 based on high demand for the vaccine. Assuming it sells all of those doses, Moderna stands to make even more money next year than it will in 2021.