The stock market has seen internal discord for quite a while, but the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Even on a day when the Dow Jones Industrials only managed to poke into positive territory with minutes to spare, the Composite and the Nasdaq-100 were up 1.5% to 2%.
Much of the gains came from the biggest tech stocks listed on the Nasdaq, with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in particular climbing sharply on strong earnings and its announcement of a pending 4-for-1 stock split. Yet the news wasn't all good for Nasdaq-traded shares. Both Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) were lower on Friday, weighed down by competitive fears on the coronavirus vaccine and by company-specific factors affecting their businesses.
Gilead hopes for a brighter future
Shares of Gilead Sciences were down almost 4% on Friday. The biotech giant announced second-quarter earnings late Thursday, and the numbers didn't entirely satisfy shareholders.
Gilead's revenue was down almost 10% in the second quarter compared to the year-earlier period. The company blamed the declines on lower sales of its chronic hepatitis C virus, which it attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic reducing the number of patients visiting healthcare providers for treatment and screenings. Generic competition also hit sales of its Letairis and Ranexa treatments. Gilead's core HIV business was fairly solid, with just a 1% drop in the second quarter.
Geographically, Gilead saw significant dispersion across its global footprint. Product sales in Europe plunged 30%, compared to just a 7% drop in U.S. revenue. Other international markets outside Europe actually provided sales gains of 12%, helping to offset the losses elsewhere.
Investors weren't even assuaged by upgraded guidance, which included a boost of $1.2 billion to $2.8 billion in its projected full-year 2020 product sales. New earnings projections provided a range of $6.25 to $7.65 per share, up from its previous guidance of $6.05 to $6.45 per share. Considerable uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19 is making it tough to feel entirely confident about Gilead's future prospects.
A new challenge for Moderna
Elsewhere in the coronavirus vaccine space, Moderna's shares fell nearly 5%. As if the race to develop a viable preventative medicine against COVID-19 weren't dramatic enough, the small biotech appears to have been the target of a cyberattack.
Reports late Thursday indicated that Moderna had been the intended victim of hackers that might have been sponsored by the Chinese government. The company confirmed, according to Reuters, that the FBI had informed Moderna earlier in 2020 that the China-based hacker team was looking for information about its vaccine development program, which has led to the candidate treatment mRNA-1273.
Investors are also constantly weighing odds in the race to be first with a vaccine. Between Gilead and other competitors like Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), it's far from a certainty that Moderna's early head start will translate into a victory. However, Moderna's stock price has definitely risen dramatically in the hopes that it will emerge as the winner.
The entire pharma and biotech space is on pins and needles regarding COVID-19. There are huge opportunities, but some stocks will inevitably be losers. Shareholders just hope it won't be their stocks that fall.
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