CAMBRIDGE: Moderna said today that its 2023 sales would only hit the low end of its previous forecast, reflecting weaker demand for Covid-19 vaccines, and its shares plummeted over 16% in early trade.
The vaccine manufacturer also pushed back the launch date of its flu shot, which it had previously said it expected to be available in 2024, into 2025.
Concerns around waning demand for Covid-19 vaccines have led to a nearly 58% drop in the company’s shares this year. The stock is now less than a fifth of the record high hit during the peak of the pandemic two years ago.
Moderna said the US$6 billion 2023 revenue forecast was based on the expectation that at least 50 million Covid-19 vaccines would be administered in the US. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is its lone marketed product and the company had earlier forecast revenue of US$6 billion to US$8 billion.
The company said it would return to sales growth in 2025, by which time it would have launched new vaccines against the flu, and break even the following year.
“We expected the high end was too lofty and implied Q4 (fourth-quarter Covid-19 vaccine sales) after today’s beat looks reasonable,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a note.
So far, more than 15 million people in the US have received an updated Covid-19 shot, including Pfizer’s rival vaccine, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, compared to around 23 million by this time in last year’s campaign, which started 10 days earlier.
The company posted a third-quarter net loss of US$3.6 billion, driven by non-cash charges of US$3.1 billion related to manufacturing capacity resizing and tax reserve. The resizing, which included scaling down production by contract manufacturer Lonza, will improve the future cost of sales, Moderna said.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna said it expected US$4 billion in revenue next year from sales of its Covid-19 shot, called Spikevax, and its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, which is not yet approved but expected to launch in 2024 based on positive data from a late-stage trial.
The per-share loss of US$9.53 was much bigger than expectations of a US$1.93 loss, according to London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data.
The company reported third-quarter sales of US$1.8 billion, topping analysts’ estimates of US$1.32 billion, according to LSEG data.
Analysts estimate over US$100 million in sales for each of Moderna’s new vaccines against RSV and flu, which also has yet to be approved, in 2024, according to LSEG data.
Moderna’s 2025 sales growth expectation is based on anticipated revenue from those shots, as well as from its forthcoming combination Covid-flu vaccine, chief financial officer Jamey Mock said in an interview.
“We believe 2024 is the low point, and we laid out some of the pieces to that. We’re going to launch two or three new products on top of that in 2025, and have RSV out in 2024, and it’ll continue to grow thereafter,” he said.
Spikevax’s US market share increased to 45% from 36% in 2022, according to Moderna.
Wall Street has been skeptical of the overall uptake of Covid-19 vaccines this fall and of Moderna’s ability to hit its minimum US$2 billion sales forecast for the commercial market, Yee said in a note last month.
Yee said he expected the number of Covid-19 shots administered in the US would hit 35 million to 40 million rather than the minimum of 50 million doses forecast by Moderna.