J.P. Morgan Reiterates Neutral Stance on Moderna Following Healthcare Conference

From a company barely known outside industry circles a year ago, Moderna (MRNA) has now become a household name. Forever destined be known as one that rose to the occasion and provided the public with a route back from a pandemic to normality via its successful Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273.

But, while the company has rightly drawn applause for the swift and successful implementation of its Covid-19 program, some Street analysts have questioned the company’s – and specifically mRNA-1273’s – commercial potential.

J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov remains among the skeptics.

“In our view, Moderna’s mRNA-based platform could have broad and disruptive potential across the biopharma landscape though we remain somewhat cautious on the amount of value being ascribed to mRNA-1273,” the 5-star analyst said.

Comments made by CEO Stéphane Bancel at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference haven’t convinced Kasimov to reverse his Neutral (i.e. Hold) position. Kasimov gives MRNA an $89 price target, which implies ~29% downside from current levels. (To watch Kasimov’s track record, click here)

During the conference, Moderna has guided for advanced purchase agreements worth $11.7 billion in 2021, so far, with $2.81 billion already deposited by customers for the product’s future supply. The company is in talks for further agreements in 2021 and 2022.

Between 600 million and 1 billion doses of mRNA-1273 are expected to be manufactured this year, followed by up to 1.2 billion doses in 2021.

Moderna expects its vaccine to provide protection for at least 12 months, but also there’s “an opportunity to boost at 1 year.” Additionally, the company remains nonplussed regarding the new variants, for which it believes “mRNA-1273 will be effective.”

On the non-Covid front, the company anticipates to kick off a Phase 3 study in CMV (mRNA-1647) in 2021. Furthermore, Phase 1 trials for flu vaccine candidates are slated to begin this year (mRNA-1010, mRNA-1020, and mRNA1030). The company also disclosed Phase 1 trials will begin in 2021 for new vaccine candidates targeting HIV (mRNA1644 and mRNA-1577).

Turning back to Wall Street, the fence sitters and optimists are evenly split when considering Moderna’s path forward. 7 Buys and Holds each are joined by 2 Sell ratings, all coalescing to a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The bulls have the edge, as the average price target comes in at $147.08 and implies potential upside of 18%. (See MRNA stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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