Moderna Expected to Reach Sales Target as Private Market Fuels COVID Vaccine Demand

The company has projected a total U.S. COVID vaccine demand of up to 100 million doses for the fall season.

Moderna (MRNA.O) is poised to achieve the lower end of its sales target for the year, buoyed by its COVID vaccine’s reach within the private market, say industry analysts.

To reach its goal of $2 billion in 2023 sales from the private market, Moderna needs to vaccinate approximately 20 million people with its updated COVID-19 vaccine.

According to four analysts cited by Reuters, this target is indeed attainable.

The company has projected a total U.S. COVID vaccine demand of up to 100 million doses for the fall season.

In 2023, Moderna forecasts sales of its COVID-19 vaccine to range from $6 billion to $8 billion, with $2 billion to $4 billion expected to come from the commercial market. Previously signed government contracts will account for the remainder.

Recent doubts about these projections arose when Pfizer (PFE.N) lowered its full-year sales outlook for its COVID-19 shot by approximately $2 billion due to lower-than-expected vaccination rates.

Consequently, Moderna’s shares declined by approximately 22% following Pfizer’s warning.

Analysts like Hartaj Singh from Oppenheimer & Co believe Moderna’s sales outlook is less likely to experience a negative downturn like Pfizer’s due to Moderna’s more conservative initial forecasts.

Jefferies analyst Michael Yee, noting a gradual increase in the rollout of new COVID shots, anticipates that most of the demand will come from individuals aged 65 and over.

Modern is set to report its third-quarter results shortly after Pfizer posted its first quarterly loss since 2019.

Pfizer’s loss was attributed to the U.S. government’s return of millions of doses of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, as well as inventory of its COVID vaccine Comirnaty.

Moderna’s COVID vaccine is its sole marketed product.

The company’s research and development (R&D) expenses surged by 62% to $1.1 billion in the second quarter as it strives to introduce other products to the market, including a flu vaccine and a shot against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

In late-stage trials, Moderna’s RSV vaccine, expected to launch in the United States in 2024, demonstrated an 82.4% effectiveness rate in older adults with three or more symptoms.

It will compete with recently approved vaccines from Pfizer and GSK (GSK.L).

Additionally, data from a late-stage study of Moderna’s updated formulation flu vaccine, released in September, indicated a stronger immune response against all four A and B strains of the influenza virus compared to traditional flu shots.

Jefferies analyst Yee forecasts that Moderna’s broader mRNA-based respiratory pipeline, including RSV and flu vaccines, will generate sales ranging from $10 billion to $12 billion.

These figures are expected to reduce expenses and bring R&D stability by 2025.