Coronavirus stocks like Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) have been incredibly explosive. For example, when I first weighed in on INO stock in late January, it was trading at just $4.86 a share. It’s now above $27, and could run to $30, near-term.
Over the same time frame, other vaccine makers had similar runs:
- BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) ran from $28.58 to $91.60
- Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) ran from $20.45 to $80.86
- Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) ran from just 67 cents to $15.11
- AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) ran from $48.64 to $58.07
With the coronavirus still wreaking havoc and on the promise of a vaccine breakthrough, all could easily run higher.
Of those, I still believe Inovio Pharmaceuticals remains one of the most undervalued. Even after a 455% run higher, I still believe there’s plenty of upside remaining with plenty of catalysts.
Catalyst #1: The Coronavirus Is Only Getting Worse (and Worse)
“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one. If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go… it is going to get worse and worse and worse,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on July 13.
U.S. cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Diego will keep schools closed this fall. Businesses throughout California are being locked down. Hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients.
In short, we need a vaccine as fast as possible.
And if Inovio can help, it’s stock could easily explode beyond $30 a share. To date, the company has already announced positive results from early-state testing of its vaccine.
Catalyst #2: Inovio Pharmaceuticals is Part of “Operation Warp Speed”
Inovio was also selected to take part in the government’s “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS) program, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes as an initiative that “… aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures).”
Catalyst #3: Positive Trial Data with INO-4800
Inovio Pharmaceuticals recently said that 94% of Phase 1 trial participants saw an overall immune response six weeks into the study after two doses of INO-4800. By week eight, INO-4800 was found to be safe and well-tolerated with no serious side effects.
Better, in a pre-clinical animal study, INO-4800 showed full protection against the replication of the coronavirus in infected mice, said the company. Inovio has plans to initiate Phase 2/3 efficacy trials once it receives regulatory approval.
“We look forward to urgently advancing INO-4800, as it is the only nucleic-acid based vaccine that is stable at room temperature for more than a year and does not require to be frozen in transport or for years of storage, which are important factors when implementing mass immunizations to battle the current pandemic,” said President and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim.
Catalyst #4: $71 Million Contract from DoD
The company also announced it received $71 million in funding from the “U.S. Department of Defense to support a large-scale manufacture of the its CELLECTRA 3PSP smart device and the procurement of CELLECTRA 2000 devices, which are used to deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin,” according to a recent press release.
Reportedly, both devices can deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin, which then leads the body’s immune system to respond quickly.
Look for data from a Phase 1 study on these devices in the near future.
Granted, Inovio Pharmaceuticals isn’t profitable. It also doesn’t have an approved product on the market just yet. However, if it can show further success with INO-4800, the stock could easily run well above $30 a share, near-term.
Ian Cooper, an InvestorPlace.com contributor, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999. As of this writing, Ian Cooper did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.