Investors in Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) can’t catch a break — whether the news is positive or negative. One month ago, NVAX stock was trading for above $200 per share. Since then, it’s plummeted 55% to around $90 a share. Despite my longstanding bullishness on the Covid-19 vaccine play, I’ll admit it’s debatable whether NVAX stock is still a promising opportunity.
With the regulatory approvals it’s received overseas, Novavax could generate a high level of sales this year even if delays — and lower demand — mean limited success in the U.S. market. However, Novavax is in a “show-me” situation with its international sales. The vaccine maker has the approvals and the orders. But until these orders start turning into big revenue, investors will remain skeptical whether it can live up to expectations.
Still, with so much pessimism baked into NVAX stock, shares stand to see a big, albeit partial, recovery provided the overseas rollout goes off without too many hitches this year. Mind you, I wouldn’t bet the ranch. But you may still want to enter a small position.
NVAX Stock Takes a Hit With Other Vaccine Plays
Novavax isn’t the only pandemic vaccine stock that’s struggling. Perceived winners in the space, like Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) have also struggled recently as sentiment for vaccine plays has shifted from bullish to bearish. The market’s current take seems to be that vaccine makers are having a one-and-done windfall and demand will fall off considerably in the coming years.
Part of the reason for this view, and the sharp sell-off in vaccine stocks over the past week, was the U.S. Supreme Court’s squashing of President Biden’s vaccine mandate. The ruling lessens the chances that Americans who are concerned about the vaccine will go out and get one. It also eliminates the chances of there ever being a federal mandate for boosters. Something like that would have extended the runway for high Covid-19 vaccine sales.
But while shares of Moderna, and to a lesser extent Pfizer, are well off their highs, this sentiment shift has been worse for NVAX stock. Its rivals have already cashed in, while this late-to-the-game contender has yet to do so.
Novavax has obtained authorization in many overseas markets. For instance, it has received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from Indonesia and the Philippines, conditional marketing authorization from the European Union and an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization. Other pending applications could soon come back as approvals.
But the company has yet to submit its vaccine for emergency use authorization to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And investors have doubts about whether there’s sufficient demand for the company to receive big orders, as well as doubts about Novavax’s ability to fill them.
Demand Fears Are Overblown
I wouldn’t count on a full rebound for NVAX stock. Even in a best-case scenario, the company’s future results may not be enough to justify a move north of $330 per share. But that doesn’t mean you should write it off completely. Even a partial recovery could mean a big rebound from current depressed levels.
Concerns of low demand appear overblown, as there’s still a good chance the company generates enough sales to justify a move to higher prices. The inability of Biden’s vaccine mandate to hold up in court means that demand is not likely to come from the United States, but the situation may be different in Europe.
EU member nations like Austria have implemented stringent mandates. Novavax’s candidate, Nuvaxovid, is a protein-based vaccine. EU citizens leery of mRNA technology may go with this option. The same thing could play out in other markets like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom with similar rules if/when Nuvaxovid gets approved in those markets.
Novavax also stands to see big demand in middle and lower-income countries. With easier storage requirements than mRNA vaccines, Nuvaxovid could become a widely used vaccine in more remote regions of the world.
The Bottom Line on NVAX Stock
Despite what skeptics may think, Novavax is still in the running to sell billions worth of its vaccine candidate.
Some point to manufacturing issues saying they will affect the company’s ability to deliver orders. But I think there’s still too much focus on last year’s production hiccups and not enough focus on the progress made to correct this issue. Given Novavax’s partnership with the Serum Institute of India (SII), it has the production infrastructure in place for a multi-billion-dose rollout.
NVAX stock is risky, to be sure. Yet, once the vaccine maker starts booking big sales internationally, its share price could spike.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel 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.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.