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2 Green Flags for Moderna in 2021 and 1 Yellow Flag

By Adria Cimino - Mar 6, 2021 at 7:07AM

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It's all about the coronavirus vaccine.

Moderna (MRNA 3.78%) recently reported its first-ever product revenue thanks to coronavirus vaccine sales. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Feb. 26, 2021, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and contributor Adria Cimino discuss two encouraging points from the company's fourth-quarter earnings report -- and one reason for caution.

Corinne Cardina: What are two green flags for investors and one potential red or yellow flag to pay attention to?

Adria Cimino: Okay. I think the first green flag would definitely be the advance purchase agreements for the coronavirus vaccine. Moderna was talking about those last month -- in January -- and was saying that the advance purchase agreements for vaccine to be delivered this year totaled $11.7 billion. That was already great. We were happy about that.

Now, during the earnings report they said that has increased. The advanced purchase agreements signed today represent $18.4 billion in revenue. That's definitely a positive that we're moving up, and they're getting more orders for the vaccine, and that's great.

I would say the second green flag would have to do with production. Because again, orders are great, but we have to be able to follow through and deliver on those orders. So far, Moderna has done so, and now it's raised the low end of doses to produce this year to 700 million. That's up from the earlier forecast of 600 million. And that was already up from 500 million. It's steadily been going up. The high end of that window is a billion doses. It's always possible they can produce a billion doses, too. That would be great. But at least we know that now their lower range is pretty high as it stands.

As for yellow flag, for me, that would be the departure of the chief medical officer. Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks is going to be departing in September. He's responsible for regulatory affairs and clinical development. Those are two key areas, and he was the one who really shepherded this vaccine through the process and to where it is right now. He's been with the company for several years and knows it very well. So the idea of leaving now, while the vaccine is just newly out and the company has so many other new programs they are starting, and they are entering clinical trials... It's just a shame to lose a senior member like that. We will have to be on the lookout to see the replacement and everything. But I would say that would be the one thing that is negative going on right now.

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