On May 4, pharma giant Pfizer (PFE -1.35%) released its financial results for the first quarter ending March 31. As expected, its coronavirus vaccine, BNT162b2, was the star of the quarter. Pfizer recorded $3.5 billion in sales from BNT162b2, which it developed in collaboration with Germany-based BioNTech SE (BNTX 1.14%). The vaccine obviously helped boost Pfizer's performance in the first quarter, and that will continue for the duration of the pandemic.
However, during the company's first-quarter earnings conference call transcript, Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla made a prediction you will definitely want to hear.
Could COVID-19 become the new flu?
Right now, governments worldwide are primarily concerned with ending the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why Pfizer and BioNTech -- as well as other companies that have developed vaccines for the disease -- have signed agreements to deliver hundreds of million doses of their respective products.
But COVID-19 won't simply disappear once the outbreak is under control. And according to Albert Bourla, neither will the need for vaccines. In his own words: "Based on what we have seen, we believe that a durable demand from our COVID-19 vaccine, similar to that of the flu vaccines, is a likely outcome."
If this prediction proves accurate, Pfizer could continue to profit from sales of BNT162b2 for many years to come. What does this mean for investors?
The future of the coronavirus vaccine market
Of course, Pfizer has to compete with several of its peers in the coronavirus vaccine market. And while the company's BNT162b2 proved highly effective in a phase 3 clinical trial, newer variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 could complicate things. But these potential headwinds are unlikely to totally take the wind out of Pfizer's sails.
Despite the competition, the drugmaker expects to generate $26 billion in sales from BNT162b2 this year. The company also has supply agreements in place that stretch to at least 2023. In other words, Pfizer is in a good position to continue generating decent revenue from this blockbuster product for at least the next couple of years.
The company also thinks its BNT162b2 is very effective against all the current variants of SARS-CoV-2. Pfizer has other coronavirus vaccine candidates in its pipeline to deal with future variants or mutations, including those that could vaccinate children as young as two. The company should be ready to tackle any variants that emerge in a regulatory process of 100 days, if needed. All things considered, the pharma giant seems to have most bases covered.
But there's more
Pfizer looks likely to remain a leader in the COVID-19 vaccine market, but there are more reasons to consider purchasing shares of the company. During the first quarter, the company reported $14.6 billion in revenue, a 42% increase compared to last year's first quarter. Excluding sales from BNT162b2, the company's sales grew by 8%.
Importantly, Pfizer spun off its off-patent medicine unit Upjohn to the company formerly known as Mylan last year. The new entity, called Viatris, made its debut on the stock market on Nov. 17. Upjohn has been severely limiting Pfizer's revenue and earnings growth as several of its products continuously posted declining sales. Thanks to this transaction, Pfizer is now hyperfocused on its biopharma business, which has been performing pretty well all along.
The company boasts at least a couple more blockbuster drugs (aside from BNT162b2), and Pfizer is running well over two dozen clinical trials. Pfizer can continue adding more drugs (and vaccines) to its lineup, thereby broadening its sources of revenue. What's more, the market continues to undervalue Pfizer. The company is currently trading at just 10.7 times forward earnings, while its price-to-earnings growth ratio (PEG) is 0.9. (For context, the average S&P 500 forward price-to-earnings ratio is about 22, and a PEG below 1 suggests a company is undervalued.) Moreover, Pfizer boasts a dividend yield of 3.9% -- compared to 1.3% for the S&P 500.
On the whole, there are more than enough reasons to seriously consider adding shares of this healthcare stock to your portfolio.