Shares of biotech company Novavax (NVAX -2.07%) plummeted by 23.6% this week, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The stock opened on Monday at $74.98 and rose to as high as $75 on Tuesday before it began to plummet. It sunk to a new 52-week low of $56.80 in the early afternoon on Thursday.
It's becoming clear that Novavax is falling behind its peers in its ongoing efforts to get an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) for its COVID-19 vaccine to be used as a booster shot in the U.S.
On March 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the EUAs for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership to allow second booster shots to be given to individuals 50 and over and to people who are immunocompromised.
Novavax's vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, is protein-based, not mRNA-based, and has been approved already in 35 countries, including Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and all of the members of the European Union -- but not in the U.S. The concern among investors is that by the time Novavax does get U.S. approval for its vaccine, the potential market for the shot here will have shrunk considerably.
Part of the problem is that Novavax didn't complete its U.S. EAU request until Jan. 31. Given the delays that have stalled its vaccine approval here, it may be too late to catch up.
It's not all bad news. The company sold plenty of vaccines elsewhere. Last year, thanks mostly to its COVID-19 vaccine, the company reported sales of $1.1 billion, up from $476 million in 2020. However, its sales in the fourth quarter slowed year over year to $222 million compared to $280 million in the prior-year period. For the year, the company had a net loss of $1.7 billion compared to a loss of $418 million in 2020. In Q4, it reported a loss of $846 million, compared to a loss of $178 million in the same period in 2020.
Management says it expects the biotech company to finally turn things around this year, guiding for 2022 revenue in the $4 billion to $5 billion range.
Based on management's outlook, the stock is trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 2.78, so if it hits its targets, investors should look back on today's share prices as a great bargain. The question is, given its late start in the U.S., can the company achieve those results purely from international sales?
In the short term, the stock was already bouncing back a little on Friday, but much of that likely reflects the fact that it had dropped to a new 52-week low the day before.