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11th May 2022

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Moderna Reports First Profitable Quarter. Patent Worries Are Slamming the Stock.

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Moderna has signed deals to deliver $19.2 billion of Covid-19 vaccine doses this year.

Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images


reported its first profitable quarter, turning a result that beat Wall Street’s expectations, but the shares tumbled amid concern over proposals to temporarily waive intellectual-property protections for Covid-19 vaccines.

Moderna reporting diluted earnings of $2.84 per share for the first quarter of the year, above the FactSet consensus estimate of $2.39 per share. Moderna (ticker: MRNA) lost $0.69 per share in the fourth quarter of 2020, and had never previously recorded a profitable quarter.

Moderna reported sales of its Covid-19 vaccine of $1.7 billion for the quarter, and said it has signed advance purchase agreements for a total of $19.2 billion for Covid-19 vaccine doses to be delivered this year.

That is short of the $26 billion that


(PFE) said earlier this week it expects to sell in Covid-19 vaccines this year, but it is still more than virtually any other drug has ever sold in a single year.

Moderna said it now expects to make between 800 million and 1 billion doses of the vaccine this year, and up to 3 billion doses next year.

Yet Moderna shares were down 8.1% in premarket trading on Thursday, after falling 6.2% on Wednesday. The drop comes after the U.S. said late Wednesday that it would back a proposal within the World Trade Organization that would temporarily waive the intellectual-property rights of vaccine makers in an effort to expand Covid-19 vaccine access.

Shares of other Covid-19 vaccine makers were also down, including


(BNTX), which fell 3.5% on Wednesday and another 11.2% early Thursday, and


(NVAX), which fell 4.9% on Wednesday and another 9.7% early Thursday.

On an investor call early Thursday, the company’s CEO,
Stéphane Bancel,
pushed back on the intellectual-property waiver proposal, saying it wouldn’t result in more available doses in the short term.

“We believe this will not help supply more mRNA vaccines to the world any faster in 2021 or in 2022, which is the most critical time of the pandemic,” Bancel said. “There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world. There is no industry of talented individuals who are skilled in the art of making high-quality and high-purity [good manufacturing practices]-grade mRNA vaccines.”

Bancel said that there are no companies capable of quickly running clinical trials and supplying hundreds of millions of doses of mRNA vaccines. The CEO noted that Moderna had previously said that it will not enforce its Covid-19 vaccine-related patents during the course of the pandemic.

In the meantime, Bancel said that he believed that the landscape of Covid-19 vaccines had changed, and that governments now heavily favored mRNA vaccines. “We believe it has become an mRNA market for Covid-19 vaccines,” Bancel said.

Late Wednesday, Moderna announced promising data from a booster trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, saying that neutralizing titer responses to the original virus, and to the South African and Brazilian variants, increased in patients who received boosts. The company also said that antibody responses to the South African strain were higher in patients who received a boost from a new version of the vaccine designed to target that variety.

“In the first quarter, the Moderna team delivered on its supply commitments to many governments and helped protect more than 100 million people,” Bancel said in a statement. “This accomplishment translated into our first profitable quarter in the company’s history, after 10 years of scientific innovation and several billion dollars invested to make our mRNA platform a reality.”

Moderna reported $8.2 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and investments as of March 31, up from $5.2 billion at the end of 2020. The company attributed the increase to customer deposits for vaccine doses.

Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at

2021-05-06 12:58:00

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