Moderna (MRNA -2.53%) is in the middle of a slump. The messenger RNA (mRNA) specialist's share price is down by a staggering 45% from its 52-week high right now. Moderna's stock has been rocked by the combination of the 2022 bear market and the step down in demand for COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite these headwinds, Wall Street still has a fairly bullish view on this beaten-down biotech stock. Among analysts covering the stock, for instance, Moderna's average fair value estimation implies a healthy upside potential of 66% from current levels. What follows is a breakdown of Moderna's core value proposition and its appeal as a possible contrarian buy.
Moderna's underappreciated value drivers
Even with a lowered outlook for the COVID-19 vaccine market in general, Wall Street's current consensus estimate has Moderna's shares trading at approximately 5.2 times 2023 sales right now. That's not exactly an outlandish valuation for a company with strong free cash flows, high profit margins, and a highly unique pipeline.
In fact, this middling valuation arguably doesn't reflect much, if any, of the net present value of Moderna's deep and robust mRNA therapeutic platform. Wall Street analysts, though, clearly haven't forgotten about the biotech's deep value proposition, based on the stock's stately fair value estimate of $232 per share.
At present, Moderna is developing vaccines and therapies for scores of high-value indictions such as cytomegalovirus, flu, respiratory syncytial virus, mononucleosis, HIV, and various cancers, among others. While most of these indications are notoriously tough to treat, Moderna's success at developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine at a breakneck speed bodes well for its prospects in these therapeutic areas.
Perhaps most importantly, Moderna's massive cash infusion from its COVID-19 vaccine sales ought to enable the biotech to greatly accelerate its development timeline for these next-generation mRNA products. The company's next big breakthrough, in turn, might be a lot closer than most bears are anticipating right now.
Time to buy?
Should investors take a cue from Wall Street on this beaten-down biotech stock? While Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine sales are undoubtedly going to be the main focus for investors in the short term, this mRNA specialist does come across as a bargain at current levels. There are two key pillars to this bullish take.
First off, Moderna's pipeline of prophylactic vaccine programs, such as its combo flu and COVID-19 vaccine, should yield a couple of lucrative products in fairly short order. These vaccines ought to help anchor the company's top line over the next two to three years.
Second, Moderna's more speculative assets, like its personalized cancer vaccine portfolio, could generate several big hitters from a revenue standpoint. These assets are unproven in the clinic, but they hold enormous commercial potential. Investors, for their part, appear to be ignoring the deep value inherent in Moderna's earlier-stage pipeline.
Overall, Moderna's stock will likely remain volatile as the COVID-19 vaccine market cools off. But investors with a long-term outlook may want to take advantage of this downturn in Moderna's share price. By the end of the decade, after all, Moderna could grow into one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.