Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) is a California-based biotech company that’s developing vaccines. Like so many other biotech namess over the past year, that also includes taking on Covid-19. And, also like many of these companies, VXRT stock saw its shares rise dramatically from penny stock status in 2020.
In this case, between February 2020 and February 2021, VXRT stock surged almost 2000%. What makes Vaxart different from the rest? This company focuses on oral vaccines; pills instead of syringes. That could be a game changer, especially given the fact that Covid-19 vaccines currently require refrigeration or deep-freeze storage.
However, as has been the case with many companies working on Covid-19 vaccines, VXRT stock has also been volatile. That was on full display at the start of February, when VXRT rocketed 162% in just three sessions only to immediately give up that gain based on disappointing trial results.
Now trading in the $8.70 range, VXRT stock is up 53% so far in 2021 but still well off of its February high. So, is now the time to consider an investment in this promising, pre-clinical biotech company?
VXRT Stock: Bypassing the Complications
Vaxart has a number of oral vaccines in its development pipeline, including versions for norovirus, HPV and influenza. However, let’s focus on its Covid-19 product for a moment in order to show the advantages of Vaxart’s oral vaccines.
As I mentioned before, current novel coronavirus vaccines require refrigeration for transportation and storage. Some also require being frozen at extreme temperatures. This has resulted in a scramble — and considerable expenditure — to buy specialized freezers. And in many parts of the world such as Africa, where health budgets are often constrained and populations widely dispersed, suitable refrigeration may be out of reach for many.
Vaxart’s pill-based vaccines, however, are stable at room temperatures. This eliminates a huge logistical hurdle. That alone has been a driving force behind VXRT stock’s growth since the start of the pandemic.
On top of bypassing transportation and storage, though, Vaxart’s solution could also address another issue in vaccine rollout: the supply of syringes needed to inject typical vaccines. While biotech companies are ramping up vaccine production, there have been concerns that syringe production won’t be able to keep pace. Obviously, an oral vaccine like Vaxart’s would remove the problem. Plus, giving shots requires trained health professionals who may not always be available. Anyone can take a pill.
Finally, though, Vaxart meets another (albeit less crucial) need: fear of needles. One 2018 study from the University of Michigan found that 27% of workers at a subject hospital did not receive a flu vaccine “because of needle fear or they did not like needles.” And these were professionals working in a healthcare setting. Once again, an oral vaccination has a huge advantage here.
Vaxart Gets an Upgrade
That all said, at this point Vaxart has stumbled with its Covid-19 vaccine. For example, its latest trial showed promising T-Cell responses, but failed to generate enough antibodies. The company feels that its candidate’s T-Cell response shows promise against stronger Covid-19 variants, but that lack of antibodies is still a concern. However, these are early stage trials.
So, despite the negative market reaction to Vaxart’s Covid-19 vaccine trials, some analysts are looking at the bigger picture here. For instance, Jefferies recently initiated coverage of Vaxart with a “buy” rating and a $13 price target for VXRT stock.
When it comes down to it, Jefferies analysts aren’t just focusing on Covid-19 here — they’re also looking at Vaxart’s oral vaccines for influenza and norovirus. In fact, analysts feel the latter alone (which starts clinical trials later this year) could generate revenue extremely well for the company.
Bottom Line on VXRT Stock
Right now, VXRT stock holds a respectable “B” rating in Portfolio Grader. The company is generating some revenue and had $177.3 million in cash, equivalents and available-for-sale debt securities to draw on as of March. There is real potential here, but it’s tempered by volatility and the risk that the vaccines in its pipeline may not reach the approval stage.
However, if Jeffries is right, Vaxart’s needle-free oral vaccines could reward investors with some 50% upside over the next year — as well as continued long-term growth potential.
On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
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