WHO’s Nod Can’t Mask Ocugen’s Flimsy Fundamentals

Ocugen (NASDAQ:OCGN) has been one of 2021’s most volatile biotech companies. OCGN stock spiked from $2 to above $10 back in February after Ocugen announced that it was partnering with India’s Bharat Biotech on the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine.   Since then, Ocugen has been a roller coaster, dipping to $7 or $8 repeatedly before spiking up to $15 and then moving back down.

A bunch of glass vials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Source: Shutterstock

Last week, the shares went on one of their crazy rides. OCGN stock soared from $10 to $17.50 in a few days and then almost as quickly gave back all the gains.

Investors are excited about Ocugen largely because it’s slated to get 40% of any U.S. and Canadian profits that Bharat obtains from its coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin . OCGN stock surged last week on a positive development for Bharat; however, that news matters much less to Ocugen than you might first expect.

WHO’s Approval Leads to a Misguided Rally

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) granted an emergency use listing (EUL)  to Covaxin. The EUL had previously been delayed, and there was uncertainty over whether Covaxin would get the nod. The WHO’s decision is great news for Bharat, since it will make it much easier for the company to sell the vaccine in certain overseas markets.

The news matters much less to Ocugen, however. That’s because Ocugen only has the rights to the vaccine in the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. in particular has been quite negative on Covaxin, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declining to give the vaccine an emergency use authorization earlier in 2021.

The WHO also did not approve Covaxin for children. That is a big problem for Ocugen, since children are one of the few remaining, large markets for Covid-19 vaccines in the United States. If the WHO won’t give Covaxin the green light for children, why would the more stringent FDA do so?

So while the WHO’s approval for adults is better than nothing, it really doesn’t move the needle for Ocugen. The latter company needs to sell vaccines in the U.S. and Canada to justify its steep market capitalization, and the WHO’s decision doesn’t change much on that front.

Ocugen’s management and directors seemed to realize the irrelevance of the WHO’s decision to their company as well. Stunningly,  seven different company insiders sold OCGN stock  last week alone.

All of the  insiders sold their shares for more than $15 each, as company directors and the CEO wisely took profits during the unjustified rally. While people on social media like to talk up Ocugen as the next Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), the people who know Ocugen’s outlook best — the company’s insiders — were busy selling their shares.

Pfizer’s News Crushes Ocugen’s Prospects

There was no good reason for Ocugen’s recent surge up to the $17 level. Still, the shares might have stayed elevated for a little while, given their huge trading volumes.

However, the WHO’s EUL was quickly followed by a big setback for Ocugen. That’s because Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) reported that its oral antiviral treatment for the novel COVID-19 had delivered amazing results. An interim analysis of Pfizer’s Phase 2/3 trial found a stunning 89% decline in the risk of hospitalization or death among Covid patients who used the drug.

The stock market reacted in a big way to  this news. Reopening stocks, such as airlines, surged, while Covid-19 companies like Moderna and Ocugen plunged.

Since the U.S. and Canada have been so slow to approve the shot (if they ever do so at all),  the window of opportunity to sell it in those nations is rapidly closing. If Pfizer’s drug reduces the need for vaccines and boosters, it could be game over for Ocugen before the company even starts generating meaningful revenues.

The Verdict on OCGN Stock

It’s great that Bharat secured the approval for emergency use from WHO.  But the EUL won’t necessarily result in any actual vaccine sales in the U.S.

Ocugen’s insiders rushed to sell its shares the moment they popped last week. The CEO alone sold 115,367 shares of OCGN stock.

Traders should consider following that lead. Ocugen is late to the Covid-19 vaccine party at best, and there is a decent chance that the vaccine will never never generate any meaningful sales in the U.S. at all.

Ocugen’s history is also uninspiring, to put it mildly. Ocugen may have a massive social media fan club, but that’s about the only positive aspect of the company at this point.

On the date of publication, Ian Bezek 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.

Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.


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