mRNA specialist Moderna (MRNA) is among the leading players in the race to be first to market with a COVID-19 vaccine and the market has been kind in return. Overall, the stock is up 254% year-to-date.
According to Needham analyst Alan Carr, the market is not the only space where Moderna is performing well. After attending last week’s virtual R&D day, the analyst is encouraged by the progress across the company's clinical programs.
Moderna has several vaccines and therapeutics in the pipeline, with a focus on infectious diseases, oncology and rare diseases. The company presented encouraging initial data from its study of investigational cytomegalovirus - the CMV mRNA-1647 Phase 2 trial - and announced plans to develop an mRNA-based seasonal Influenza vaccine.
That said, the Moderna story in 2020 is based on the potential of mRNA-1273, its late-stage COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The drug is currently in a Phase 3 trial and the company has enrolled 25,296 subjects out of the overall target of 30,000 subjects. First interim analysis of the trial is expected in November and interim analysis will be conducted at 53 and 106 events, after which a final primary analysis will be held at 151 events.
Carr gives mRNA-1273 an 80% probability of success and highlights its differentiating qualities.
“As a reminder,” the analyst said, “The Moderna vaccine has less demanding storage requirements than the Pfizer mRNA vaccine (-20C vs -80C). Moderna plans to distribute the vaccine in 10 x 0.5ml dose vials, with no dilution required... Progress with mRNA-1273 as a vaccine for COVID-19 represents an opportunity for upside in 4Q20. We believe the stock is attractive in the long-term, given validation of the Moderna mRNA platform and an extensive diversified pipeline.”
Accordingly, Carr reiterated a Buy rating on MRNA shares accompanied by a $94 price target. Investors could be pocketing a 34.5% gain should Carr’s thesis play out over the coming months. (To watch Carr’s track record, click here)
Overall, Moderna has robust backing amongst the Needham analyst’s colleagues, too. Based on 11 Buys, 2 Holds and 1 Sell, the biotech has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $91.86, the analysts project upside of 31% over the next 12 months. (See Moderna stock analysis on TipRanks)
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