Healthcare Business

COVID-19 Vaccines Are on the Way and Major Players Are Cashing In

COVID-19 stocks were on the move on Wednesday after a few huge updates in regards to vaccine approval. With regulatory approval being the only barrier to these major players, a vaccine is within reach for the global community, and production becomes the main question.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech S.E. (NASDAQ: BNTX) had the big news of the day, gaining regulatory approval in the United Kingdom. Technically, the companies received temporary authorization for emergency use from the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom.

Note that this is the first Emergency Use Authorization following a worldwide Phase 3 trial of a vaccine to help fight the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech are expecting further regulatory decisions across the globe shortly, and they are ready to deliver vaccine doses following potential regulatory authorizations or approvals.

The distribution of the vaccine in the United Kingdom will be prioritized according to the populations identified in guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Namely, frontline health care workers and the elderly will be prioritized.

As it stands, Pfizer and BioNTech have an agreement with the United Kingdom to provided and deliver 40 million doses of the vaccine throughout 2020 and 2021.

Pfizer stock traded up about 3% to $40.66 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $26.45 to $41.40. The consensus price target is $41.78.

BioNTech stock was up roughly 4%, at $119.00 in a 52-week range of $21.05 to $128.13. The consensus price target is $105.48.

Separately, it was announced that Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) had sold its stake in Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA). Merck had originally invested $50 million in Moderna in 2015, and even though it is closing out this position, management noted that Merck would still have exposure to Moderna but more indirectly.

Moderna only came public in 2018, but 2020 was by far its biggest year. Excluding Wednesday’s move, the stock had gained about 621% year to date. If anything Merck’s $50 million investment will be paying off big.

Moderna stock traded up over 4% to $147.35. The 52-week range is $17.68 to $178.50, and analysts have a consensus price target of $119.60.