why-‘covid-fatigue’-isn’t-enough-to-keep-biontech-down;-shares-surge-on-upgrade

Why ‘Covid Fatigue’ Isn’t Enough To Keep BioNTech Down; Shares Surge On Upgrade

BioNTech (BNTX) snagged an upgrade Wednesday with an analyst saying “Covid fatigue” has obscured its non-pandemic efforts. BNTX stock jumped on the news.

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SVB Securities analyst Daina Graybosch says there’s sufficient evidence an annual Covid booster will be necessary, though compliance could be low. Beyond Covid, BioNTech is developing personalized cancer vaccines. BioNTech uses a platform called iNeST, or individualized neoantigen specific therapies, to create its cancer vaccines. It’s testing one in combination with Merck’s Keytruda in melanoma patients.

“We hear broad skepticism from investors on cancer vaccines — traditional and neoantigen — and thus, believe positive data from the randomized melanoma study of iNeST plus Keytruda vs. Keytruda (alone) has more upside than downside risk for BioNTech,” Graybosch said in a report.

The results are expected from that study in the second half of this year.

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BNTX Stock: Comirnaty Sales Likely To Dive

Graybosch upgraded BNTX stock to an outperform rating. But she cut her price target on shares to 223 from 253.

“We believe there is reasonable upside for the stock as it continues to trade below our most negative scenario (166) for the Covid-19 vaccine maker and even below our estimate of 178 for the value of (the Covid vaccine called) Comirnaty and cash,” she said. Those estimates exclude the experimental pipeline in oncology and other infectious diseases.

Comirnaty is BioNTech’s only marketed product, in partnership with Pfizer (PFE). For the year, the company expects about $13 billion to $17.1 billion in sales. Graybosch is more bullish and sees roughly $21.1 billion.

But the second quarter could see a tick down in revenue from Comirnaty, she said. BNTX stock analysts polled by FactSet call for adjusted earnings of $6.58 per share on $3.69 billion in sales. Earnings would dive by about 48% and sales would fall 41%. This comes after the broad launch of Covid vaccines in the spring of 2021.

Notably, analysts predict BioNTech hit its peak in 2021 and now expect annual sales to fall. Moderna and Pfizer are expected to peak this year.

But There’s More Beyond Covid

But BioNTech’s non-pandemic pipeline could be its saving grace. The company has a dozen drugs in preclinical testing, 15 in first-phase testing and five in Phase 2/Phase 3 studies. Its most advanced oncology efforts are in melanoma, head and neck cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

BioNTech partners with Genentech, a Roche (RHHBY) subsidiary, on its iNeST platform.

“We do expect iNeST to improve over time,” Graybosch said in her upgrade note.

In response, BNTX stock jumped 3.2% to 166.62 on today’s stock market. Shares are now above their 50-day moving average and trading near a three-month high, according to MarketSmith.com.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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