If the omicron variant of Covid-19 was supposed to be a tide that lifted all vaccine stocks, someone forgot to tell Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) investors. Since the close of the markets on Nov. 26, NVAX stock is down nearly 11%
But Novavax got no such initial bump. And this last leg down is only the latest downturn that Novavax investors have had to endure. Since Sept. 7, the stock is down 32.43%.
Conventional wisdom suggests that this is an anomaly. The World Health Organization (WHO) is expecting to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate on or before Dec. 16, 2021. If that occurs, the company instantly becomes a viable player in the distribution of vaccines.
I held that belief for a long time. But today, I’m not so sure. And if you give me a few minutes, I’ll attempt to explain my reasoning.
Opinions Are Hard to Change
A significant part of the bullish case for NVAX stock is the composition of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. It offers several distinct features that are seen as desirable in alleviating vaccine hesitancy.
First, it’s a subunit vaccine. As I referenced in a prior article, that means it uses part of the pathogen (I.e. a live virus) to train the immune system to fight off infection. And, the vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures instead of needing to be kept under sub-zero conditions.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the first benefit. A stated reason for many people to avoid the vaccine was due to the unproven nature of mRNA technology.
The idea was that Americans didn’t know what they were putting into their bodies. And if they did, they weren’t sure what the long-term effect of the vaccine would be.
However, I’m becoming convinced that vaccine hesitancy has become an ideological issue as opposed to a medical one. Case in point, many people said they were waiting on approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approval is here, but it hasn’t moved the needle significantly on vaccine adoption.
Opinions are entrenched. Individuals have decided what side they’re on and they’re committed to wherever that leads. In the United States at least, there is plenty of vaccine available. Those that want a vaccine have received one. Those that don’t, probably won’t without a vaccine mandate which is unlikely to come to pass.
And that weakens the case for NVAX stock. We are not facing a lack of supply, but one of demand.
When Bad News is Good News
While I want investors to look at Novavax realistically, I won’t say that there are no facts in the company’s favor. First, there is the possibility that the omicron variant of Covid-19 will require a reformulated vaccine. That may be a catalyst for Novavax because, theoretically, it may be able to beat Pfizer or Moderna to market.
And if the company successfully gets a Covid-19 vaccine in market, that may help the approval process for the other therapeutics in the company’s pipeline.
Public health experts, for now, say that the variant while highly transmissible appears to produce only mild symptoms. On the other hand, recent news shows that South African hospitals are filling up. And although officials estimate that 75% to 80% of those being admitted are unvaccinated, it’s safe to say that we may not be as close to the end of the pandemic as we thought.
NVAX Stock is About the Ceiling Not the Floor
Which brings me back to Novavax. I believe that for things to get better for NVAX stock, the Covid-19 pandemic will have to get a lot worse. From a technical standpoint, the stock is beginning to look oversold.
It could be possible that NVAX stock recovers all of the ground its lost. But at that point, investors have to wonder how much higher it can go. Given the price action in the stock, I think many investors already know the answer.
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.