Moderna (MRNA) Q4 2021 earnings

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared for administration ahead of a free distribution of over the counter rapid Covid-19 test kits to people receiving their vaccines or boosters at Union Station in Los Angeles, California on January 7, 2022.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Moderna on Thursday said it expects to sell at least $19 billion of its Covid-19 vaccine this year, after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that blew out analysts’ earnings and revenue estimates.

Moderna stock rose 11.4% in morning trading. The company’s 2022 forecast for vaccine sales was $2 billion higher than its previous expectation. Moderna previously said it expected $17 billion in vaccine sales this year.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told analysts on an earnings call Thursday morning that the $19 billion only reflects signed purchase agreements and doesn’t count its potential U.S. sales yet since the federal government hasn’t signed advanced purchase agreements for 2022.

Bancel declined to comment on future U.S. pricing of the vaccine, though he does expect the price to increase as the shots move into a normal, private market. “We think the price does not reflect the value of the vaccine from a pharmacoeconomic standpoint,” Bancel said.

Here’s how the company performed compared with what Wall Street expected, based on analysts’ average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $11.29 vs $9.90 expected
  • Revenue: $7.2 billion vs. $6.78 billion expected

Moderna reported $4.9 billion in net income for the fourth quarter. The company sold $17.7 billion of its Covid vaccine in 2021, delivering 807 million vaccine doses worldwide. Moderna’s revenue totaled $18.5 billion for 2021.

Bancel told CNBC on Thursday that the world may be moving out of the pandemic phase as the omicron wave subsides in the U.S. and around the world. However, Bancel said people will need booster shots in the fall, particularly individuals over 50 and those with underlying conditions.

“We believe there’s a high probability that we’re moving into an endemic setting,” Bancel told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell. “We should still be cautious because as we’ve seen with delta, which came after alpha and was more virulent, [it] is always possible to get the more virulent variant of course.”

Moderna’s Covid vaccine is the company’s only commercially available treatment. The two-dose vaccine, Spikevax, was fully approved for adults ages 18 and older in the last month by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moderna is conducting a clinical trial for a booster shot that specifically targets the omicron Covid variant. However, it’s unclear whether there will be strong demand from the public for an omicron booster as new infections from the variant drop sharply in the U.S. and other parts of the world. The company said Thursday that it’s also developing a booster that targets both omicron and the other circulating Covid variants.

“We believe that a seasonal booster will be necessary to prevent breakthrough diseases, including hospitalization in vulnerable populations,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said. “And we believe that the continued evolution of the virus is going to continue to put pressure on preexisting immunity, whether that’s naturally derived or vaccine provided.”

Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said a booster that targets both the omicron and delta variants will be needed in 2022.

“This is because delta as we know is associated with strong pathogenicity, and omicron as we have seen due to its transmissibility and infectivity is also associated with substantial morbidity and strain on health-care systems through sheer bulk of cases,” Burton said. “Protection against both delta and omicron may well be necessary in the next boost of vaccination.”

The FDA has not yet lowered the eligibility age for Moderna’s vaccine beyond adults. Moderna asked the FDA last summer to authorize its vaccine for teenagers 12- to 17-years-old. However, the drug regulator is reviewing data on the risk myocarditis, a rare heart inflammation, after vaccination with Moderna’s shots. Moderna has said it will not ask the FDA to expand eligibility to 6- to 11-year-olds until the drug regulator authorizes the shot for teenagers.

The company expects to release clinical trial data on a lower dose vaccine for children under 5-years-old sometime in March. Hoge said Moderna is also evaluating a third dose for the youngest kids.

The U.S. has administered more than 207 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine since the FDA first authorized the shots on an emergency basis in December 2020.

Beyond Covid, Moderna is conducting clinical trials for vaccines targeting common seasonal respiratory viruses. The company has launched a phase three trial of a vaccine targeting respiratory syncytial virus and has fully enrolled a phase two trial for a flu vaccine. Hoge said the company expects to move into a phase three trial for the flu vaccine this year. Moderna also expects to start a phase one trial of a combination flu and Covid vaccine in 2022, Hoge said.

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