Unless you've been living under several rocks, it won't come as a surprise to hear that Pfizer (PFE 0.90%) is one of the leaders in the COVID-19 medicine market. Between its wildly successful vaccine and its dutiful development of soon-to-be-released antiviral therapies, the company has risen to meet the moment of the pandemic like few others.
Even if a pharma juggernaut might not sound like a prototypical growth stock to you, by all indications Pfizer is going to keep deepening its lead, potentially delivering market-crushing returns to its investors. Let's take a look at four reasons it's positioned to be the best COVID growth stock on the market for the next few years.
1. The original coronavirus vaccine is still in hot demand
The foundation of a growth stock is a killer product, and that's exactly what Pfizer has. Pfizer's vaccine Comirnaty won it $13 billion in the third quarter alone, and there are undoubtedly billions and billions more to come. In sum, management expects that it'll make as much as $36 billion from vaccine sales this year. And this wasn't the initial expectation, guidance has increased by $2.5 billion from $33.5 billion, noting the opportunities appear to be growing even faster than management anticipates.
At the moment, Pfizer expects to make $29 billion from Comirnaty in 2022, but it's still taking orders from major purchasers in world governments, so that figure may rise. Plus, between the recent approval of doses for children over age 5 and the November 19 authorization of booster doses for all adults, it's entirely possible that it'll sell more doses in 2022 than in 2021. Not only has the company produced significant amounts of revenue, but it has been profitable while doing it. With even more in the works, there's no question that it has a wide runway for growth.
2. Jab 2.0 is in the works
While the vaccine was originally designed to be effective against the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus has since spawned a handful of variants that are somewhat hardier. Pfizer's entry is still largely effective at preventing severe disease from infections with these variants, but the company isn't content to rest on its laurels.
Instead, variant-specific vaccine formulations are in the works, ensuring that future iterations of the jab are as up-to-date as possible, thereby maximizing their protectiveness. As the pandemic continues and the coronavirus shifts to become an endemic threat, these updated jabs may be instrumental in keeping caseloads manageable, and that means they'll be in demand.
3. Its antiviral pill is coming
Hot off a wildly successful phase 2/3 clinical trial of its antiviral pill, Pfizer is positioned to be the first to market in the oral anti-coronaviral space. Its investigational antiviral pill called Paxlovid may reduce the chance of severe illness and death by as much as 89% in infected vulnerable people.
Given that Pfizer has already applied for regulatory approval, the pill could be hitting clinics quite soon. And major customers like the U.S. government are already clamoring to secure their supply. The Biden administration dropped $5.3 billion to purchase 10 million doses in advance of the expected approval. Other customers are sure to follow, and that's exciting news for shareholders, to say the least.
4. Its coronavirus medicines are at least as good as the competition
The final reason Pfizer is going to continue winning the coronavirus market is that its medicines are highly competitive. In comparison to other vaccine stocks, the efficacy of its jab against severe disease is only bested by Moderna, which is narrowly more protective. And, it blows Johnson & Johnson's inoculation out of the water. While it's possible that new entrants like Novavax might eventually work so well that they rival Pfizer's offering, they'll face difficulty in stealing market share thanks to being so late.
But vaccines aren't the only area where the company has stellar products. Right now, it looks like the 89% effectiveness of Pfizer's antiviral pill candidate might one-up Merck's similar drug under development, which is only 50% effective at preventing severe disease.
Making more effective medicines than competitors will ensure that its market share remains secure, and it's also why it'd be a mistake to bet against Pfizer's stock moving forward.