What happened

It's only Tuesday, but Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) is already having an ugly week. After its stock sank on Monday despite a not-bad first-quarter earnings report, on Tuesday, it was hit by an analyst's price target cut and the shares plummeted again, closing the session almost 14% lower.

So what

In his new research note, Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) prognosticator Kelechi Chikere sliced his price target on Novavax stock from $310 to $235. Since the new target figure is still 70% above the most recent closing share price, Chikere is maintaining his buy recommendation.

Gloved hand filling a syringe from a vial.

Image source: Getty Images.

But his note highlights some concerning facts nestled within the company's Q1 earnings report.

The clinical-stage biotech admitted that production of its coronavirus vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, will increase more slowly than previously anticipated. Additionally, Novavax plans to wait until Q3 to file for the vaccine's authorization in the U.S. and in Europe. Understating the case somewhat, Chikere described the delays as "clearly disappointing."

Novavax's news was particularly dispiriting given that the vaccine (which has tested very well in clinical trials) is likely to win authorization in at least one major jurisdiction.

Now what

Novavax is already quite some distance behind the leaders in the coronavirus vaccine race. Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have all gotten emergency use authorizations for their jabs in this country and elsewhere. And it doesn't seem like there will be many prizes for those that cross the finish line far back in the pack.

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.