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3 Crucial Things I'll Be Looking for in Moderna's Earnings Report

By Adria Cimino – Nov 2, 2021 at 10:00AM

Key Points

  • Moderna is already heading for a successful 2021 with the estimate of $20 billion in product sales.
  • The company has predicted vaccine need may be even greater next year.
  • Coronavirus booster shots and pipeline programs will be key moving forward.

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They'll determine the pace of growth ahead.

Moderna's (MRNA -4.48%) earnings reports have been giving investors reason to celebrate. Earlier this year, the coronavirus vaccine giant generated more than $1 billion in revenue and profit after just one full quarter of commercialization.

On Thursday, Moderna will report earnings for the third quarter -- and expectations remain high. After all, Moderna already predicted $20 billion in coronavirus vaccine sales for the year. But there will be a lot more to the biotech's quarterly earnings report than vaccine sales. Here are three specific points to look for -- ones that may be critical for Moderna's future.

A person in an office takes notes while studying something on a computer.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Future vaccine orders

Some investors worry about Moderna's vaccine sales growth after the pandemic. The concern is demand will decline -- and so will sales of the vaccine.

Moderna has already offered us clues this probably won't happen. In the previous earnings report, Moderna's 2022 advance purchase agreements for confirmed orders and options totaled $20 billion. That put next year at the same revenue level as this year. And CEO Stéphane Bancel has said 2022 market need may be greater than that of 2021.

Those are positive signs. Now, I'll be looking for confirmation of that with an update on vaccine orders for next year and beyond. I'll also be on the lookout for comments from Bancel regarding how vaccination may fit into a post-pandemic world. For instance, will the company aim to sell countries primary series and boosters on an annual basis -- or will the focus turn mainly to annual boosters? This should help us determine revenue potential for the years to come.

2. Booster candidate news

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Moderna's booster for certain individuals. It's a half-dose of Moderna's original vaccine. This is positive because it ensures Moderna a spot in the booster market. It's also positive because producing a half-dose product increases Moderna's production capacity.

That said, the FDA was reticent about authorizing the boosters of Moderna and rivals. The regulatory agency said the actual vaccines continued to work well in most cases.

Moderna's booster candidates in the pipeline may stir up more excitement. Here's why. The company's candidates are targeting the one factor that could keep the coronavirus going strong: variants of concern. This summer, the delta variant caused a resurgence of coronavirus cases even as countries vaccinated their citizens. So, an arm to stop this sort of situation could be a game changer.

Moderna is examining three candidates in clinical trials and one in a preclinical study. The company's candidates target the delta or beta variants. But Moderna has said it aims to create its booster so that it may be updated to block variants as needed. I'll be listening for any comments on the timeline for these candidates and any new data from the studies.

3. Pipeline progress

The coronavirus vaccine story pushed Moderna to center stage. But to stay there, Moderna must commercialize other products.

The company last week reported a piece of excellent news: It's dosed the first participant in its phase 3 cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine trial. If all goes smoothly, a CMV vaccine could be Moderna's next product to market outside of the coronavirus space. CMV is a common virus that's dangerous for unborn babies and people with weak immune systems. It represents a billion-dollar opportunity. So, this could be big for Moderna.

I'm interested in hearing any details on the timeline for the CMV program. And I'll be watching for comments on early-stage programs that could be game changers down the road. For example, Moderna aims to launch a phase 1 trial of its HIV vaccine candidate this year. This is a project to watch closely. Others have failed in this arena. If Moderna eventually succeeds here, the long-term rewards for the company and shareholders could be massive.

Adria Cimino has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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