Almost a year ago, Moderna (MRNA -1.56%) soared past $480 a share. The stock had gained 2,400% since the end of 2019. Investors first bet on the company's ability to bring a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine to market -- and later they rallied behind the shares as the vaccine generated billions of dollars in revenue.
Since then, Moderna has lost a lot of that momentum. The shares slid 43% in the first half of the year. That's even as the company continued to report blockbuster revenue and profit. Does this mean it's too late to buy Moderna stock? Let's take a closer look.
The biggest worry
Investors' biggest worry is that coronavirus vaccine sales will drastically decline in the future. Moderna's only commercialized product right now is its coronavirus vaccine. So, a big drop in vaccine sales could be devastating.
But that probably won't happen. Here's why. Experts predict the coronavirus will stick around. We've seen evidence of this in the form of new variants. The latest are omicron and its subvariants.
Today's vaccines are effective against these variants -- but not as effective as the new strain-specific boosters Moderna is developing. So, in the "best" scenario for Moderna, everyone who is already vaccinated will go annually for a strain-specific jab. And in the "worst" scenario, only those most at risk will get the annual shot. This situation still could represent considerable revenue -- even if revenue isn't as high as it was earlier in the pandemic.
And an important point to keep in mind is that, eventually, Moderna will generate more revenue per dose than it does today. It's sold vaccines to the U.S. government for about $15 a dose. The company suggests that when it begins selling directly to pharmacies, the price will rise to about $60.
The way to stay ahead
As I mentioned above, Moderna may stay ahead with strain-specific boosters. And the company is even working on a combined flu/coronavirus shot. These potential products could be leaders in the coronavirus market of tomorrow.
All of this means the coronavirus vaccine business is far from over. Meanwhile, the revenue Moderna is generating through vaccine sales is helping the company advance other programs in its pipeline. Moderna has $19.3 billion in cash thanks to the success of its vaccine.
And speaking of the pipeline, Moderna may not be a one-product company for long. Moderna has three candidates in phase 3 trials: Investigational vaccines for the flu, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This is outside of the coronavirus program. Vaccines for CMV and RSV don't yet exist. So a win in one or both of these areas could be big -- and give Moderna the first-to-market advantage.
Share price potential
Now let's talk about share price potential. I don't expect Moderna shares to soar in a short period of time like they did in the past. Investors aren't flocking to coronavirus vaccine stocks like they did in the earlier stages of the pandemic. But that doesn't mean you should lose hope in Moderna.
The biotech company still has what it takes to drive stock gains over time. By this, I mean a blockbuster product, leadership in the coronavirus market now and likely leadership in the future too, and a strong pipeline.
These elements should support revenue and profit growth into the coming years. In fact, the best days probably aren't behind us. Instead, they're likely a few years down the road. At that point, Moderna may generate revenue from more than one product.
So, is it too late to buy Moderna shares? If you're looking for a quick gain, yes. But if you're looking for a company that will deliver over time, it's not too late to get in on Moderna shares. You can buy shares of the biotech for only five times forward earnings estimates. So, actually, if you buy now, your timing may be perfect.