May 30, 2024

Moderna stock soared on Wednesday after its first-quarter earnings report sailed past Wall Street’s expectations.

The company reported $167 million in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax, in the first three months of 2024. That amounts to its total revenue for the period given that the vaccine is Moderna’s only product on the market. The plummet has Moderna’s revenue down 91% from $1.9 billion in the same quarter last year.

But there is a small bright spot for the pharma giant: Those results surpassed Wall Street’s expectations, coming in well above the $93 million in estimated revenues compiled by FactSet. The Massachusetts-based company said the decline aligned with the expected transition to a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine market, similar to that of the flu shot. The prior year results were bolstered primarily by delivered doses deferred from 2022, the company said.

For the quarter, Moderna posted a net loss of $1.18 billion, equal to $3.07 per share. This was stronger than the FactSet consensus estimate of a $1.4 billion net loss. Shares of the vaccine-maker rose 2% in pre-market trading on Thursday.

Moderna’s shares popped more than 15% on Wednesday afternoon, making it the best performing stock on the Nasdaq and the third-best on the S&P 500. Its stock traded at $128.44 each, bringing its market capitalization to roughly $49 billion.

Moderna is hoping for sales to pick up later this year with the rollout of its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, which should receive initial regulatory approvals starting in the first half of this year. The company is targeting fall 2024 for its U.S. RSV vaccine launch, which it said “will build upon the success of its commercial efforts in the fall COVID-19 market.”

“This is the start of a banner year for our vaccine platform as we continue to advance mRNA medicines for patients,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in the earnings report. “This is just the beginning.”

The company reaffirmed its 2024 expected revenue of approximately $4 billion from its respiratory vaccines, expecting approximately $0.3 billion in net sales during the first half of the year given the seasonality of the respiratory business.

Bancel said that as the company awaits the launches of its updated COVID vaccine and RSV jab, that the company is “exercising financial discipline” and has “intensified [its] focus on building and utilizing AI technologies to further streamline operations and enhance productivity.”

Moderna and OpenAI announced an ongoing partnership in February to implement AI across Moderna’s business. Bancel told The Wall Street Journal at the time that the partnership will be key to advancing the vaccine-maker’s business process as it moves beyond the COVID-19 vaccine to produce other mRNA medicines — and that he wants Moderna’s employees to OpenAI’s ChatGPT no less than 20 times a day.

In March, the company announced that its updated COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1283, demonstrated a stronger immune response than its current jab in results from a phase-3 clinical trial.

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