The past two trading days were rough for vaccine-maker Novavax (NVAX) and its investors. The stock has plunged nearly 30% on the news of a new Russian rival.
In a statement reported out of Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian researchers have "registered" the world's first vaccine against infection with the novel coronavirus, that full-scale production will begin in September, and distribution in October. President Putin is so optimistic about the new vaccine -- dubbed "Sputnik V" to hark back to Russia's "Sputnik moment" in 1957, when Russia orbited the world's first satellite -- that he says his own daughter has already tried it out.
Disappointing? Hardly, says H.C. Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino. In fact, at a new stock price of less than $130 a share, Novavax's selloff now gives investors the opportunity to buy Novavax at a huge discount -- and before the shares double to $290 a share.
In fact, this is precisely what Bernardino thinks investors should do, as he reiterates his "buy" rating and $290 price target on Novavax stock. (To watch Bernardino's track record, click here)
You see, Russia may be very pleased with its new vaccine. Indeed, Putin avers that Sputnik V "works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the necessary checks" -- and is, lest anyone might miss the point, "the first" vaccine to be registered by any nation as ready to use. Still, it's worth pointing out that Sputnik V has not in fact undergone Phase 3 clinical trials yet, and indeed, data on the vaccine's supposed Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials has not even been published yet.
Meanwhile, Novavax's competing NVX-CoV2373 vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus is making some pretty impressive progress, too. Phase 1 and Phase 1/2 clinical trial results are both described as "positive," having shown "very robust results in terms of antibody IgG response, viral neutralization versus convalescent serum, T cell response with Matrix-M adjuvanted vaccine, safety, and reactogenicity" -- and Novavax has actually published the results to prove it.
A full-scale Phase 2 clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373 is in the offing, comprising 1,500 total planned patients (versus the less than 100 patients said to have been experimented upon through Sputnik V's Phase 2), and Bernardino is looking forward to seeing "positive confirmation of efficacy and safety" from that one, perhaps as early as the end of this quarter. And with Novavax having already established production relationships with "vaccine development partners around the world," ramping up production of the much better-researched NVX-CoV2373 shouldn't be too far behind Russia's ramping up of the dubious Sputnik V vaccine.
Bernardino foresees the distribution of "a minimum of 1B doses for India and low- and middle-income countries," with additional sales into Canada, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Combined with an expected 500 million doses prepared for the U.S. market, this analyst thinks total production could reach 2 billion doses worldwide.
On top of all that, Bernardino points out that Novavax is just coming off of a Q2 2020 earnings report that showed revenues much stronger than anticipated -- $50.1 million -- and losses much slimmer than feared -- just $0.30 per share.
Better than expected financial results, combined with continued success on the R&D front, leaves this analyst convinced that Novavax remains an attractive stock -- whether it's first to register a vaccine or not.
Overall, Wall Street appears to agree with Bernardino here. NVAX shares have 5 recent analyst reviews, and of those 4 are Buy and only 1 a Sell – making the analyst consensus view a Moderate Buy. Shares are priced at $124.42, and the average price target of $227.60 suggests the stock has room for 83% upside growth in the coming year.
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