JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov raised the firm's price target on Moderna to $32 from $24 and keeps an Overweight rating on the shares. Even though he tells investors that Moderna's Q4 earnings report and associated call were "relatively uneventful" and the ultimate commercial opportunity for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is "unlikely to be substantial," Kasimov also believes the rapid turnaround illustrates the potential power of the company's platform and he expects near-to-medium term progress to "gradually inform the possibly disruptive capabilities of this company."
Bullish option flow detected in Moderna with 28,735 calls trading, 3x expected, and implied vol increasing almost 7 points to 66.90%. Apr-21 155 calls and Apr-21 160 calls are the most active options, with total volume in those strikes near 5,200 contracts. The Put/Call Ratio is 0.27. Earnings are expected on May 5th.
Moderna is hosting its second annual Vaccines Day, with presentations "highlighting the advantages of mRNA vaccines," the company said. "Moderna has one of the world's largest and most innovative vaccine development pipelines. We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop new vaccines against viruses hurting people around the world, at a pace that is radically different from what the industry has previously done. We are working to further increase our vaccine pipeline and accelerate these important programs. With our mRNA vaccines, we believe we have an opportunity to have a profound impact on human health," said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna. To date, Moderna has entered 14 different mRNA vaccine candidates into clinical trials. "Clinical data demonstrate that Moderna's proprietary vaccine technology has been generally well-tolerated and can elicit durable immune responses to viral antigens. The company has demonstrated the ability to attain high biological flexibility with the ability to develop mRNA vaccines against complex antigens and combination vaccines while leveraging mRNA as a platform with a flexible manufacturing infrastructure to advance a large portfolio quickly and efficiently," the company said.
Moderna is hosting its second annual Vaccines Day, with presentations "highlighting the advantages of mRNA vaccines," the company said. mRNA-1644 is a novel approach to HIV vaccine strategy in humans designed to elicit broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies and is being developed in collaboration with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A Phase 1 study for mRNA-1644 will use iterative human testing to validate the approach and antigens and multiple novel antigens will be used for germline-targeting and immuno-focusing. A second approach, mRNA-1574, is being evaluated in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and includes multiple native-like trimer antigens. The company expects to begin phase 1 clinical trials for both mRNA-1644 and mRNA-1574 in 2021. "Moderna's mRNA technology may have promise in HIV vaccine development. Three Phase 1 trials studying HIV vaccine concepts delivered by Moderna mRNA are expected to launch in 2021. The speed and cost advantages of Moderna's mRNA vaccine technology have enabled Moderna's collaborators to develop these trials rapidly," the company said.
The company states: "Moderna announced clinical and supply updates on its COVID-19 Vaccine program. New results from a preclinical study of the company's COVID-19 variant-specific vaccine candidates showed that the company's variant-specific booster vaccine candidates - mRNA-1273.351 and mRNA-1273.211 - increase neutralizing titers against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Both mRNA-1273.351 and mRNA-1273.211 increase neutralizing titers against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in Balb/c mice. Specifically, this preclinical data confirms improved neutralizing titers with the mRNA-1273.351 vaccine primary series. The multi-valent vaccine provided the broadest level of immunity. A boost at 6 months with mRNA-1273.351 closed the neutralizing titer gap for the variants of concern. Following the mRNA-1273.351 boost, neutralizing titers were comparable between the ancestral strain and the new B.1.351 variant. The company's Phase 2 study to evaluate three approaches to boosting is ongoing.
The White House said in a statement: "As FDA and CDC announced earlier today, out of an abundance of caution, they have recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC will be providing details at their briefing later this morning. This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date. Based on actions taken by the President earlier this year, the United States has secured enough Pfizer and Moderna doses for 300 million Americans. Over the last few weeks, we have made available more than 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna each week, and in fact this week we will make available 28 million doses of these vaccines. This is more than enough supply to continue the current pace of vaccinations of 3 million shots per day, and meet the President's goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office-and continue on to reach every adult who wants to be vaccinated. We are working now with our state and federal partners to get anyone scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine."