Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Could These 3 Brilliant mRNA Stocks Make You Millions?

By Alex Carchidi - Apr 30, 2021 at 6:14AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Probably not, but at least one of them could make you thousands over time.

Thanks to Moderna and Pfizer paving the way with their mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines, the market for mRNA medicines is finally open for business. But if you're looking to invest in the nascent companies making the therapies of the future, you might be in a bit of a pickle. There simply aren't that many mRNA stocks that are backed by a proven business. 

When it comes to more speculative investments, however, there are plenty of stocks to choose from. If investors play their cards right, they just might hit it big with a purchase of a smaller company angling to enter the space. But these contenders will be facing stiff competition from the heavyweights, and their success is far from guaranteed. Let's evaluate three mRNA drug developers to see what kind of upside investors can expect.

Vials of coronavirus vaccine and syringe next to hundred dollar bill.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. CureVac

The German biotech CureVac (CVAC 4.63%) has already rewarded shareholders this year, and it hasn't even had its first quarter of revenue from product sales yet. CureVac's most advanced program is its COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently in phase 3 clinical trials. Aside from that, it also has a rabies vaccine and a pair of cancer immunotherapies in phase 1.

Given that its coronavirus vaccine will need to compete with a plethora of other products if it's approved, it isn't reasonable for investors to expect the company to become a 10-bagger if they buy its stock right now.

But it could still deliver substantial growth with its second-generation mRNA vaccine in development. If CureVac's candidate can protect against multiple variants with one shot, as its creators intend, it'll have a distinct advantage over the existing options, which may require booster jabs to be fully protective. Still, the company's development collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline will limit its revenue potential to whatever it can earn in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, so it probably isn't a millionaire-maker.

2. Arcturus Therapeutics

Like CureVac, Arcturus Therapeutics (ARCT 2.67%) is working to make an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine. Its candidate, LUNAR-COV19, is still in phase 2 clinical trials, though it could get emergency approval by the end of this year if things go as planned. That puts it further behind the curve than CureVac. Nonetheless, its vaccine has a few logistical advantages that could come in handy if it's approved, like permissive storage requirements and a very low dose volume.

In terms of its other projects, Arcturus only has one clinical-stage program, its phase 1b therapy for ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. If you've never heard of that disease, don't be too surprised; the company estimates that it affects only around 10,000 people globally. Simply put, Arcturus is a long way from commercialization, and it's targeting a very small niche, which might not be profitable without regulatory allowances like an orphan drug designation.

Even if its COVID vaccine pulls through, the fact is that it'll be fighting against entrenched competition that's had ample time to prepare. Early investors may have struck it rich with this stock if they sold in time, but for now, it doesn't look like people who buy it today are going to be rewarded.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts

3. BioNTech

Per its coronavirus vaccine collaboration with Pfizer, BioNTech (BNTX 5.63%) is the only company on this list that's currently earning revenue as a result of its sales of mRNA medicines. It also has the largest and most developed pipeline of the bunch.

What's more, even if Pfizer decides to go its own way with future iterations of the coronavirus vaccine, BioNTech has gained a tremendous amount of technical know-how and public stature as a result of their collaboration. All of the above are positive signs for the company's future, even if they aren't necessarily a ticket to vast riches for investors.

It's hard to see how BioNTech could fail to capitalize on its current momentum. Management already has plans in place to reinvest earnings from the coronavirus vaccine, and the company has plans to diversify beyond its mRNA roots to cast a wider net. In the meantime, its phase 2 program for metastatic melanoma is highly promising, and it has a bevy of mRNA programs in phase 1 trials for other oncology applications. Over the course of this year, it'll start three new phase 2 trials, provide updates on five trials in progress, and initiate six first-in-human phase 1 trials.

Though none of these events have a realistic chance of making the stock double or triple overnight, they probably will provide a decent series of boosts that will please investors. But BioNTech's shareholders are probably already quite happy. In its latest earnings report, the company's quarterly revenue grew by more than 1,134% year over year, commanding a total of $482.32 million in trailing-12-month sales. If management can keep vaccine sales humming like that until its other pipeline projects are ready to hit the market, this stock will be a winner for years.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
BNTX
$157.50 (5.63%) $8.40
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$52.31 (-0.23%) $0.12
GSK Stock Quote
GSK
GSK
$43.75 (0.51%) $0.22
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$149.95 (4.97%) $7.10
Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc. Stock Quote
Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc.
ARCT
$16.16 (2.67%) $0.42
CureVac N.V. Stock Quote
CureVac N.V.
CVAC
$14.24 (4.63%) $0.63

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

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
316%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.