Moderna jumps on Oppenheimer upgrade, 2025 sales growth goal

(Reuters) -Moderna shares gained nearly 14% on Tuesday as brokerage Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to “outperform” and the vaccine maker’s CEO reiterated the company’s goal of achieving sales growth in 2025.

Shares of the company slumped nearly 45% in 2023, marking their worst annual performance to date, weighed down by weak sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.

“With the expected launch of our RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine candidate in 2024 and potential launch of our flu/COVID combination vaccine as early as 2025, we believe Moderna will experience sales growth in 2025,” CEO St├ęphane Bancel said in a letter to shareholders.

According to Oppenheimer, Moderna could have five products on the market by 2026.

Moderna shares fell 29% in 2022 after they more than doubled in 2021. The stock had tracked a fivefold increase in 2020.

The stock was among the biggest gainers on the S&P 500 Healthcare index on Tuesday.

Bancel reiterated the company’s goal to break even in 2026 as revenue grows and research and development costs for late-stage candidates recede.

Moderna had previously said it expects $4 billion in revenue in 2024 from the sale of its COVID and RSV vaccines.

Bancel recently took over the responsibility to oversee sales and marketing of vaccine after Arpa Garay stepped down as the chief commercial officer.

Moderna had said in November it would only hit the low end of its sales forecast of $6 billion to $8 billion for 2023, reflecting weaker demand for COVID vaccines.

Moderna’s price to tangible book value ratio, a common benchmark for valuing stocks, stood at 2.84 compared with 1.21 for rival BioNtech.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shilpi Majumdar)