Moderna Stock Skids Below Key Line On Unexpected Flu Shot Debacle

The company is continuing its study.

Moderna Stock Skids Below Key Line On Unexpected Flu Shot Debacle

Moderna's (MRNA) shares fell on Tuesday following a mixed update regarding its flu vaccine based on messenger RNA.

At the interim analysis there weren't enough influenza cases among the participants to be able to statistically determine if the vaccine met the study goals. Moderna will therefore continue to test. RBC Capital Markets' analyst Luca Issi wrote in a client note that the company needed at least 200 flu cases.

Moderna's stock fell 6% in morning trading on the stock exchange today to 150.52.

Moderna Stock: Promising Signs For Flu Shot

RBC's Issi stated that despite the initial disappointment, the vaccine shows signs of working.

Moderna has two Phase 3 trials of its flu vaccine -- one in Northern Hemisphere, and the other in Southern Hemisphere. The company tests its experimental vaccine in comparison to a licensed shot.

Moderna's vaccine performed better than the licensed shot in newly released Northern Hemisphere results when it came to strain A influenza. Moderna's vaccine is on par with traditional vaccines against strain B. Moderna's vaccine was superior to the standard shot in Southern Hemisphere results, but it missed strain B.

Issi, an analyst at RBC, has maintained his outperform ratings and 200-price target for Moderna. Mani Foroohar, an analyst at SVB Securities, has a rating of underperform on the shares. Moderna, he said, is working on a new version of the vaccine that may improve strain B's effectiveness. The updated vaccine will be the subject of a confirmatory trial later this month.

Foroohar wrote in a note to his clients that "this development makes sense to me, as the shortcomings in (Moderna’s flu vaccine's) clinical profile were evident for quite some time."

What is behind Moderna's outlook?

Moderna may provide more information during the Vaccine Day celebration on Tuesday.

Foroohar believes it is important to determine if Moderna will delay the commercialization of its current flu vaccine on the basis of Tuesday's interim report.

He said: "We will listen to the reasoning behind Moderna's estimate of $8 billion to 15 billion in respiratory vaccine sales for 2023. We will also support the projected operating profit profile of $6 billion up to $8 billion for the same time frame."