Moderna raises Covid vaccine outlook despite sharp drop in quarterly sales

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  • Moderna hiked its full-year outlook for its Covid vaccine, its only marketable product, despite reporting a quarterly loss and sharp drop in revenue. 
  • The Massachusetts-based company expects $6 billion to $8 billion in sales for its Covid shot this year, driven by potential U.S. demand for 50 million to 100 million doses in the fall.
  • Moderna and its rivals Pfizer and Novavax have all seen a steep drop in Covid-related sales as the world moves on from the pandemic.  

Moderna on Thursday hiked its full-year outlook for its Covid vaccine, its only marketable product, despite reporting a loss and sharp drop in revenue for the second quarter.

Here's what Moderna reported compared with Wall Street's expectations, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Loss per share: $3.62, vs. $4.04 expected
  • Revenue: $344 million, vs. $319.6 million expected

The biotech company generated second-quarter sales of $344 million, with sales of its Covid shot dropping 94%. Total revenue plunged from the $4.75 billion it recorded in the same period a year ago, when Covid cases still trended higher in the U.S. 

Moderna posted a net loss of $1.38 billion, or $3.62 per share, for the quarter. That compares with $2.20 billion in net income, or $5.24 per share, reported during the same quarter last year.

But Moderna hopes to end the sales slump on strong demand for its updated Covid vaccine targeting the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. The company is slated to roll the shot out this fall in the U.S. commercial market, but is still waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the jab.

Moderna expects $6 billion to $8 billion in sales for its Covid shot this year, up from its previous forecast of $5 billion. 

The "biggest factor" that will determine whether sales are within that range is vaccination rates in the U.S. from September to December, Moderna's chief commercial officer, Arpa Garay, said during an earnings call.

She noted that the company expects U.S. demand of 50 million to 100 million doses this fall, but acknowledged that it's "difficult to accurately predict market volumes and predict how many Americans will come in this fall for their shots."

The new sales forecast includes around $4 billion in previously announced Covid vaccine purchase agreements and $2 billion to $4 billion in "signed and anticipated" contracts in the U.S. and other markets like Japan and the European Union. 

The company is in talks with other purchasers in the U.S., EU and other parts of the world for more potential orders. However, Moderna said $1 billion in previously anticipated 2023 sales from signed government contracts was pushed to 2024.

Moderna's stock price closed flat on Thursday. The Massachusetts-based company's stock has dropped more than 38% this year, putting its market value at around $42 billion. 

Cost of sales for the quarter came in at $731 million. That included a $464 million write-off for vaccines that have exceeded their shelf life and a $135 million charge from unused manufacturing capacity, among other expenses.

The charges were primarily driven by a shift in product demand to the monovalent XBB.1.5 shot, which rendered the remaining inventory of Moderna's previous bivalent vaccine obsolete. Bivalent means the shot targeted two strains of the virus, while a monovalent jab only targets one. 

Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax have all seen sales of their Covid-related products plummet as much of the world moves on from the pandemic and depends less on protective vaccines and treatments. 

But people are still dying from Covid every day and the virus isn't fully going away anytime soon, so the drugmakers are investing in new products to fight it. 

This fall will be an important milestone for Moderna and its rivals.

The U.S. government will shift Covid products to the commercial market, which means drugmakers will start selling vaccines and treatments directly to health-care providers rather than to the government.

Pfizer on Tuesday warned that Covid shot sales in the commercial market are uncertain, adding that vaccination rates will help the company better predict sales for 2023 and beyond.

Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax haven't disclosed when they expect their new shots to be available to the public.

But new CDC Director Mandy Cohen told NPR on Monday that the new vaccines could be available by the "early October time frame."

Moderna has said it hopes to offer a new set of lifesaving vaccines targeting cancer, heart disease and other conditions by 2030.

That lineup includes Moderna's experimental vaccine that targets respiratory syncytial virus. The company expects to file for full approval of the shot for adults age 60 and older this quarter. 

The pipeline also includes Moderna's personalized cancer vaccine, a highly anticipated mRNA shot being developed with Merck to target different tumor types, along with a flu vaccine. 

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