It’s been quite a run for Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) stock. In the last 12 months NVAX stock is up a whopping 176%.
If you were a prescient investor who bought shares at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, you have done very well for yourself.
This stock price growth is even more amazing when you consider that Novavax has not yet brought its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, into the fray.
That is likely to change soon as Novavax has requested an emergency use authorization.
However, NVAX stock is beginning to look like all the good news is priced in. Analysts are only seeing about a 5% upside move for the stock.
They may be right. But that is not necessarily a reason to avoid NVAX stock as we enter what may become a golden age for vaccine development.
The More the Merrier
The debate about vaccine technology reminds me a little of the current debate in the energy sector. Indulge me for a moment while I explain.
For many years, fossil fuel advocates dismissed renewable energy sources as being too expensive or too inefficient.
But as science so often shows us, given enough time and capital, renewable energy sources have become more affordable and efficient.
With that said, they still have their skeptics, and they’re still not at a level where they’re ready to wholly replace fossil fuels. However, we now can take a “both/and” approach to our country’s energy needs.
In the vaccine field, the significance of the mRNA vaccines from the partnership between Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) as well as Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) are significant for a reason that goes way beyond the novel coronavirus.
Prior to these two vaccines receiving emergency use authorization, the idea of an mRNA vaccine was still theoretical. Now, it’s real. And judging by the data so far, they are overwhelmingly effective.
This “proof of concept” is allowing both companies to use the revenue they generate from their respective Covid-19 vaccines to develop mRNA cancer vaccines.
This, in my opinion, is the greater significance of Novavax getting a Covid-19 vaccine approved. The Novavax vaccine candidate uses recombinant nanoparticle technology.
This technology bears similarities to the mRNA vaccine, but there are important differences. One distinct difference is that the Novavax vaccine will not have the cold storage requirement of the mRNA vaccines.
I’d encourage you to read this article for a scientific explanation of the differences between the two vaccine technologies. But the United States appears to be on the verge of ushering a new “both/and” age of vaccines.
A First Time For Everything
Joel Baglole reminded InvestorPlace readers recently that Novavax has been in business since 1987. Still, the next vaccine it manages to commercialize will be its first. This should remind investors that a vaccine that uses recombinant nanoparticle technology will be every bit as experimental as an mRNA vaccine.
That doesn’t seem to matter to NVAX bulls. The argument seems to go, “Our vaccine isn’t experimental, yours is.”
However, the only opinions that matter are the potential recipients of the Novavax vaccine. And I don’t see the existence of a new experimental vaccine doing much to relieve vaccine hesitancy in this particular situation.
What may be more profitable for the company is getting good results on its mix-and-match study in the United Kingdom.
The hope is that NVX-CoV2373 will be considered a suitable alternative as a booster shot for individuals who have previously received two doses of one of the authorized, in-market vaccines.
NVAX Stock Is All About the Pipeline
In my energy example, I said we are at a “both/and” point in the energy sector. That’s not an original thought. However, it is largely true from the perspective of the customer. Most people don’t particularly care where their power comes from as long as the lights stay on.
Likewise, many people don’t care how a vaccine is developed as long as its effective. That can work for, or against, Novavax as it relates to Covid-19. But ultimately, the growth of NVAX stock will come down to the company showing that it can leverage NVX-CoV2373 into more vaccines.
I’m rooting for that, even though I think the stock is currently a hold.
On the date of publication, Chris Markoch did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Chris Markoch is a freelance financial copywriter who has been covering the market for seven years. He has been writing for InvestorPlace since 2019.