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Is Short-Selling a Risk for Moderna?

By Adria Cimino - Mar 6, 2021 at 8:00AM

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Today, the risk is different for each vaccine stock.

Short-sellers have placed bets on the decline of various coronavirus vaccine developers throughout the vaccine race. Short positions were particularly high from July through November of last year. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Feb. 26, 2021, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss whether the trend will continue -- or whether investors today are more confident about Moderna (MRNA -0.92%) and other vaccine stocks.

Corinne Cardina: Now we are going to talk, of course, about GameStop (GME 29.19%). No, I'm just kidding. There's a little bit of a tie-in here, but we're not going to talk about GameStop.

Obviously, the short squeeze with GameStop brought the subject of short-selling to the forefront of a lot of investors' minds. The short squeeze is when investors are betting on a stock's decline.

The short positions in vaccine developers such as Moderna, Novavax (NVAX -0.88%), and Vaxart (VXRT 3.09%), they all rose last year. Those levels are coming down. But in the case of Vaxart, the short positions are still pretty high -- about 36% percent of float. Should investors in vaccine stocks be worried about the level of short positions?

I've been putting your articles in the chat for folks who want to learn more on these things we're just touching on really briefly. But check out the article there, folks, if you want to know more.

What should we know about Vaxart and short squeezes?

Adria Cimino: Well, I think it could be an issue for some of the riskier players. I think it could be an issue for ones that really are at a stage where they have important data coming out, and we're not sure if they're really going to be able to move forward with their product or not. Vaxart might still face some short-selling, and certain other companies might as well.

But I think a lot of the companies like Moderna is probably past that stage right now, I think the betting phase is over on a lot of the ones that are closer to commercialization. That's good news for a lot of the stocks in this space.

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Stocks Mentioned

Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$130.85 (-0.92%) $-1.21
Novavax, Inc. Stock Quote
Novavax, Inc.
NVAX
$46.13 (-0.88%) $0.41
GameStop Corp. Stock Quote
GameStop Corp.
GME
$115.17 (29.19%) $26.02
Vaxart, Inc. Stock Quote
Vaxart, Inc.
VXRT
$3.34 (3.09%) $0.10

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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