2 Pros, 2 Cons for Investing in Moderna as It Develops Coronavirus Vaccine

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s not surprising that many pharmaceutical firms have been able to not only survive but thrive during this black swan event. However, a good-sized portion of these so-called “coronavirus stocks” are speculative. However, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is among the few that carry substantial credibility. As a result, MRNA stock has surged over 68% in the year to date.

2 Pros, 2 Cons on MRNA Stock and developing a Coronavirus Vaccine
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Upon closer inspection of the underlying company’s fundamentals, it’s difficult not to get excited. First, Moderna levers a new technology that may foster the development of an effective vaccine against Covid-19. According to a report from MIT Sloan:

“Moderna uses messenger RNA, which carries genetic information from DNA to ribosomes to produce proteins. Moderna hijacks mRNA and uses it to carry a copy of the genetic sequence of the virus, which prompts the production of the antibodies to that virus.”

Furthermore, MIT notes that Moderna’s technology is also cost-efficient. Surely, this is music to the ears of holders and potential buyers of MRNA stock.

If that weren’t enough, Moderna, along with pharmaceutical and healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), signed a deal with the U.S. government in preparation for mass coronavirus vaccine production. Obviously, with Covid-19 constantly in the news, MRNA stock could jump higher if only for sentiment reasons.

But is this enough evidence to consider Moderna as an investment? I’ll discuss two pros and two cons, beginning with the skeptical side first.

Con: Demand Could Fade, Bringing MRNA Stock to Earth

As compelling as a Covid-19 vaccine sounds today, by tomorrow, it could be a far less important issue. As time goes by, coronavirus cases naturally decline in growth. And when it fades altogether, what would be the point of a vaccine?

Commonly, skeptical analysts have cautioned against speculative pharmaceutical companies who are banking on creating a vaccine to address this virus. Of course, MRNA stock isn’t what you would call a fly-by-night investment. Nevertheless, the question remains the same: with the virus no longer a crisis, will investors still care about MRNA stock?

Moreover, when you consider the bigger picture, Covid-19 doesn’t truly justify an enormous sense of urgency. Don’t get me wrong – this is a very serious problem. But at the time of writing, we have just under two million cases worldwide. That’s around 0.03% of the world’s population.

One of the messages that healthcare workers stressed early on is that most Covid-19 cases involve mild symptoms. That has been true throughout this pandemic. Thus, the coronavirus narrative for MRNA stock isn’t contextually and economically pressing.

Con: Scale Is a Tricky Beast

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the coronavirus mutates and becomes a much more powerful disease. Millions upon millions die, with the film Contagion becoming an all-too-real storyline. Would that move the needle for MRNA stock.

In this scenario, I would assume a significant spike in near-term sentiment. However, scaling up a viable vaccine has always been a problem, even without the pressure of a health-related apocalypse. According to a Reuters report, Johnson & Johnson has a manufacturing plant in the Netherlands that could theoretically pump out 300 million doses of a possible coronavirus vaccine.

However, the company’s chief scientific officer Dr. Paul Stoffels stated that this capacity “absolutely will not be sufficient for the world.” Therefore, Dr. Stoffels is targeting an early 2021 timeframe for mass-scale vaccine production.

While Moderna claims that they can scale very quickly, investors should take clearly biased statements with a grain of salt. It’s hard enough for companies like 3M (NYSE:MMM) to make adequate quantities of N95 facemasks.

I’d assume that vaccine production is a little bit more complicated.

Pro: Covid-19 Remains a Pesky Problem

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Source: Chart by Josh Enomoto

One of the recurring themes in this pandemic is that many governments failed to take this crisis seriously. For instance, when infection cases in China got out of control, all nations should have closed their borders.

Yeah, I get it. It’s not politically correct. But we could have saved many lives with such measures.

Anyways, we are where we are – no point in crying over spilled milk. But in part because of the delayed responses in the international community, we have time-staggered coronavirus cases.

China, western Europe and the U.S. are now beginning to flatten their infection curve. However, other countries, such as the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, (China), and South Africa – are still suffering noticeable increases in infections.

(A quick note – the numbers on the South Africa cases are probably inaccurate.)

To me, this signals that the BRICS and other developing nations will still need help after western nations get over the worst of their cases. Therefore, MRNA stock may have a longer demand pathway.

Pro: Moderna’s Tech Is What’s Important

New China coronavirus cases (after 81,000 cases)
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Source: Chart by Josh Enomoto

Although bearish analysts are right to criticize any pharmaceutical company’s focus on Covid-19, for MRNA stock, the emphasis really isn’t on the coronavirus. Instead, it’s the underlying technology.

Years from now, we can suffer another pandemic. As Moderna continues to develop its mRNA innovation, it could potentially respond quicker. That’s especially vital since economies across the world have already set a precedent: they’ll shut down if necessary to save lives.

In addition, China, where the coronavirus originated, is experiencing an uptick in cases. Worryingly, the growth rate in daily cases following the 81,000-cases threshold has steadily moved higher since early April.

Now, it’s too early to determine for sure if Covid-19 is striking China for a second big wave. But it goes to show you that you can never be too careful.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2020/04/mrna-stock-and-coronavirus-vaccine/.

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