US biotech name Moderna (Moderna Stock Quote, Chart, News NASDAQ:MRNA) has shot up the charts on hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine, but even with all its now-priced-in growth, the stock is still reasonably valued, says investment advisor Brian Bloom of Bloom Burton & Co.
“Moderna does have a $30 billion market cap, but considering that their drug in the very near term, a couple of years out, could be doing $2 billion if not more in peak sales. And on the price-to-sales ratio of most large biotechs, the median is about 15x and those that are bringing new drugs or products to market and have high growth, which Madonna would be expected to, they have price-to-sales ratios in the 30s 40s and some much higher,” said Bloom, CEO of Bloom Burton, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Monday.
“So, it suggests that Moderna is not dramatically overvalued, just based on this one program. Plus, this is a next-generation biotech with enormously important and novel science and they have other vaccine programs and other programs in cancers and many other diseases. So there's a lot in Moderna,” said Bloom.
“I think this valuation is justified and they could go higher,” he said.
Moderna announced on Monday that its Phase 3 study of its mRNA vaccine candidate (mRNA-1273) against COVID-19 has begun dosing participants. The 30,000-person trial will aim to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, which is now the first in the Western world to proceed to Phase 3 trials.
So far, Moderna has received $955 million in US government funding, with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) working with Moderna on the study.
Other drug developers are nearing Phase 3 trials, as well, including Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Pfizer.
Bloom said the speed at which responses to COVID-19 are being developed is breathtaking.
“The normal course for most biotechnology companies is to spend years and years and in some cases a decade or more — unfortunately, for investors — progressing through the preclinical or the mouse studies, early human studies, human efficacy studies and then very large pivotal studies,” Bloom said. “So this, of course, is a testament to the amount of capital that private investors, the public markets and governments have committed to helping solve COVID. And it's also a testament to all the legislators and the FDA as a federal agency itself that is working with industry pharma biotech companies to move
these products forward as quickly as possible.”
Moderna has seen its share price rise from the $20 mark, pre-COVID, to now above $80, as investors pile on in anticipation of a breakthrough with its genetic vaccine candidate.
But Bloom says the medical response to COVID won’t rely on one vaccine but will more than likely feature a number of options.
“This is going to be a billions if not tens of billions of dollars market and it's going to be shared by many, many companies,” Bloom said. “I don't think that Madonna is going to be the only one that succeeds. It's my estimation that many of these companies are going to succeed, and they're going to share the market.”
“It remains to be seen what populations work best with what vaccines. Young people or old people or immunocompromised folks or people who are just in other medical situations tend to respond differently to different vaccines, so all of these questions need to be answered in the shortest period of time, given that we are in the middle of a global emergency,” Bloom said.