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What Are the Risks for Moderna Shareholders?

By Taylor Carmichael - Feb 25, 2021 at 5:00PM

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The biotech has been an incredible stock over the last year. Is it still a buy?

Moderna (MRNA 4.97%) stock has had an amazing run as the biotech company produced a COVID-19 vaccine with 94% efficacy in under a year. Is it too late to buy shares in Moderna? What are the risks? Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool contributor Taylor Carmichael discuss potential pitfalls with Moderna's stock right now in this Motley Fool Live clip, recorded on Feb. 19.

Corinne Cardina: Let's talk a little bit about any potential risks for Moderna, Taylor. Do we have a yellow, red, orange flag?

Taylor Carmichael: Yeah. A couple. One, it's very expensive, it's up to a $73 billion market cap. That's very high and so a question to keep in the back of your mind is how big is the market for COVID-19 going to be? Is it going to be consistent or is it going to be a big lump and then disappear? If it disappears for Moderna and if they drop from 11 billion to one billion or less than a billion in revenues, probably their market cap is going to take a hit. That's a question and it's not just for Moderna, but it's a question for investors to think about, honestly, almost in every stock you have. How is COVID-19 affecting it now? How is it going to change it as we come out of this crisis, as we come out of this pandemic, as we normalize? How will this affect our different stocks that we have? I have Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), a competitor for Moderna, but it's something that every vaccine company -- you got to keep in the back of your mind, what's going to happen when, hopefully, COVID disappears? So that would be a red flag for me, is how much of that market cap is COVID-related and how much of that revenue is going to disappear? I hope it does. I would love it if it's a one and done shot, to be honest. In my vaccine company, and Moderna, I would just love to get rid of this disease. But I do think it's wonderful what these companies are doing and I think it's certainly the investors who have risked their money to put it into these vaccine stocks have done really well and these companies have really saved the world, I think. This is a horrific disease and we're going to vaccinate. But that would be my one red flag. The other, it's smaller, there are distribution issues with mRNA vaccines. They have 30 days until the vaccine goes bad, so it's a question of, are they going to be able to get the shots into people's arms in 30 days? It's a downside of mRNA technology as it can be a little unstable and you need to refrigerate. Moderna is in a stronger position than the Pfizer (PFE -0.23%) one, because the Pfizer one has to be stored at negative 90 degrees Fahrenheit or something. Moderna's can be just refrigerated, but they do have that 30-day window, so there may be distribution issues with the mRNA vaccines.

Corinne Cardina: I'm going to put the CDC's vaccine tracker into the chat. Moderna has administered 28 million. I can't tell if this is doses or people? Oh, it's doses. So 28 million doses. Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech (BNTX 5.63%) have administered almost 30 million. Moderna basically caught up because they were second to getting that authorization in the US and those numbers were very different for a while, because Pfizer and BioNTech had a head-start. They're are only two million doses behind Pfizer-BioNTech, so that is definitely a good sign. I think last time I checked, we have about five percent of the US population fully vaccinated at this point. I know we're expecting to see doses ramping up in the next few weeks, so we will definitely be keeping an eye on the distribution. It will be a question about if and when Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) vaccine gets emergency use authorization, will there be a space in the US market? The government has already purchased enough vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate about 300 million Americans, so definitely the valuation is a question. I'll just mention though that it is David Gardner's one of his Rule Breaker guiding principles, is not to put too much stock into valuation, because good stocks go up, and they go up, and they go up. You look at AmazonTesla. I for one, actually bought Moderna when it went down because the Bank of America analyst said this stock is overvalued, they downgraded it, caused a temporary dip. So you can use that valuation element to your advantage and that's how I became a Moderna investor. [laughs]

Taylor Carmichael: Nice.

Corinne Cardina: Yeah.

Taylor Carmichael: Have you done well, Corinne?

Corinne Cardina: I am up like $30, I only bought one share. [laughs] I didn't want to sink too much in because it's risky but I bought at $145, it's at almost $180 now. It's important to pay attention to valuation, but you shouldn't let it keep you from buying good stocks, because good stocks are going to go up over time. We're playing the long game. 

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Stocks Mentioned

Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$149.95 (4.97%) $7.10
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$52.31 (-0.23%) $0.12
Novavax, Inc. Stock Quote
Novavax, Inc.
$57.15 (11.12%) $5.72
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$157.50 (5.63%) $8.40

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