Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) shareholders might be a little dizzy. Its share price has experienced half a dozen swings of at least 20% (and sometimes a lot more) so far this year.

That dizziness could now get even worse. Novavax announced its first-quarter results after the market closed on Monday. The biotech stock fell close to 12% in after-hours trading. But there was really only one thing in Novavax's Q1 update that investors cared about.

Healthcare worker holding a lot of COVID-19 vaccines.

Image source: Getty Images.

Numbers, schmumbers

That one thing definitely was not Novavax's top line. That's easy to conclude since the company's revenue skyrocketed 14,800% year over year to $447 million yet the stock still tanked. This massive growth stemmed from Novavax's deals with the U.S. government and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations related to its COVID-19 vaccine NVX-Cov2373.

It didn't even matter that this revenue total trounced the average analysts' estimate of close to $234 million. The fact that Novavax beat this estimate so handily was more a factor of analysts' miscalculations than it was great news for the company.

Investors weren't phased by Novavax's worsening bottom line, either. The company posted a net loss of $223 million, or $3.05 per share. This reflected significant deterioration from the net loss of $26 million, or $0.58 per share, recorded in the prior-year period. Neither were investors particularly pleased that the biotech's net loss was better than the consensus analysts' estimate of a net loss of $3.60 per share, 

What investors focused on

So what did investors focus on with Novavax's Q1 update? The company said that it now plans to file for authorization for NVX-CoV2373 in the U.S., the U.K., and the European Union in the third quarter of 2021. This news threw investors for a loop because Novavax up to now has said that it would file for authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the second quarter.

That wasn't the only delay for the company, though. Novavax also stated that it now expects to achieve its target of producing 150 million doses per month in Q4 instead of Q3. 

There are several key problems with Novavax's news. The obvious one is that the company won't generate sales for its COVID-19 vaccine as soon as anticipated. That issue by itself is enough for the stock to fall. However, there are also two other issues for the biotech.

The later-than-expected regulatory filings combined with the slower production ramp-up could hurt Novavax's chances of winning additional supply deals for 2022. That won't necessarily be the case, but it's a possibility.

Novavax's management team has also lost credibility in the eyes of investors and analysts. There's likely to be a higher level of skepticism about anything that the company's executives promise -- at least for a while.

Looking ahead

The company without question needs to complete the regulatory filings for NVX-CoV2373 in the third quarter and avoid any further delays. Despite the disappointing news, though, there are still reasons to be optimistic about Novavax's prospects.

NVX-CoV2373 appears to be safe and highly effective based on clinical results announced so far. A potential supply deal with the European Union might be finalized soon. The Matrix-M adjuvant is increasingly looking like a crown jewel for Novavax. The biotech also has a promising flu vaccine candidate with NanoFlu. Novavax said that it expects to begin clinical testing of a combination of NanoFlu with NVX-CoV2373 later this year.

Worries about Novavax's delay of regulatory filings should only be temporary. The stock's pullback could present a buying opportunity for investors with a long-term view who aren't afraid of a little dizziness with the biotech's share price swings.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.