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BioNTech's Q4 Results Wowed but Were Just the Tip of the Iceberg

By Keith Speights - Mar 30, 2021 at 10:00AM

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The German biotech delivered huge revenue growth and posted a hefty profit thanks to its COVID-19 vaccine.

It's been a whirlwind for BioNTech (BNTX 4.10%) over the last 12 months or so. The German biotech developed what would eventually become the first COVID-19 vaccine to win Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the U.S. Its partnership with Pfizer (PFE -0.34%) enabled that vaccine to be produced and distributed in mass quantities.  

BioNTech gave the first look at the financial fruits of its efforts when it announced fourth-quarter results before the market opened on Tuesday. The biotech stock jumped more than 3% in early trading. Here are the highlights from BioNTech's fourth-quarter update.

COVID-19 vaccine vials.

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

BioNTech reported revenue in the fourth quarter of 354.4 million euros. This result reflected a huge 1,134% year-over-year increase. It also trounced the average analysts estimate of 224.9 euros.

The company's bottom line also improved dramatically. BioNTech announced a net profit of 366.9 million euros in the fourth quarter. It posted a net loss of 58.2 million euros in the prior-year period. 

BioNTech ended the fourth quarter with cash and cash equivalents totaling 1.21 billion euros. At the end of 2019, the company's cash position stood at 519.1 million euros.

Behind the numbers

There's no surprise here: BioNTech's fourth quarter was all about COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2. The company shared net profits equally with Pfizer for sales of the vaccine in everywhere except China, where BioNTech has a collaboration deal in place with Fosun Pharma

Of course, BioNTech's financial results didn't include a full quarter of sales for BNT162b2. The vaccine didn't win EUA in the U.S. until Dec. 11, 2020. The companies picked up EUA in the U.K. just a few days earlier on Dec. 2. The European Union granted authorization to BNT162b2 on Dec. 21. 

While BioNTech's revenue skyrocketed thanks to BNT162b2, its spending also soared because of the vaccine. The company's research and development expenses nearly quadrupled year over year to 257 million euros. Its general and administrative expenses jumped 225% year over year to 36.1 million euros.

Looking ahead

BioNTech's Q4 results are just the tip of the iceberg compared to what's on the way. The company expects to generate revenue of around 9.8 billion euros from the current supply deals for BNT162b2, which total roughly 1.4 billion doses. 

However, BioNTech's revenue in 2021 should be much higher than that amount. The biotech anticipates that it and Pfizer will secure more supply contracts. BioNTech stated that its full-year 2021 manufacturing capacity target has increased from 2 billion to 2.5 billion doses to handle the surging demand.

BioNTech and Pfizer expect to file for regulatory approvals for BNT162b2 to be used in vaccinating individuals ages 12 to 15 years old in the second quarter of 2021. The companies are evaluating the vaccine in younger children as well.  

In addition, the partners plan to test a third booster dose of BNT162b2 to potentially increase efficacy against the South African coronavirus variant beginning in the second quarter. BioNTech and Pfizer also anticipate results from a late-stage study of a lyophilized (freeze-dried) version of BNT162b2 will be available in the third quarter of this year. They hope to eliminate the current ultracold storage requirements with this new version of the vaccine. 

BioNTech's focus isn't only on COVID-19, though. Co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin stated, "We see a tremendous opportunity to reinvest the proceeds from our COVID-19 vaccine into extending and accelerating the research and development of new vaccines and therapeutics to improve the health of people worldwide by harnessing the full potential of the immune system."

The German biotech will likely conduct more of this new development on its own. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently stated that the big drugmaker will move forward with messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine development without BioNTech.

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