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How will the BioNTech share price react to Covid vaccine dependence after Q4 results?

The BioNTech share price is heavily dependent on Covid vaccine sales, but the company’s fourth-quarter announcement this week should reveal how strong it expects demand to be in 2022.

The BioNTech [BNTX] share price has dipped from its highs last year, but promising growth in revenues and earnings could boost the vaccine maker’s stock when it reports fourth-quarter figures on 30 March.

The company is expected to post earnings per share of €8.05, up from €0.64 in the year-ago quarter, according to analysis by StoneX Financial’s City Index. Revenues are forecast to come in at €3.9bn, up from €345.4m in the fourth quarter of 2020.

BioNTech’s sales over the past year have been boosted by continued demand for its Covid-19 vaccine developed with pharma giant Pfizer [PFE]. In the fourth quarter the US Food and Drug Authority extended emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine, allowing it to be administered to all adults as well as children between 12 and 17 years old. The FDA also granted emergency approval for children from five to 11, making it the first authorised vaccine for this age group in the US.

Even as the vaccine rollout slows down, the company expects demand for its Covid jab to remain robust as new variants emerge.

“This virus is relatively early in the evolution. And we will definitely see adaptations of the infection rate,” CEO and cofounder Uğur Şahin said at the third-quarter earnings call. “We will see adaptations of antibody escape variants coming in, which will require adaptation of the vaccine.”

The push by Pfizer to monetise its Covid patents could rub off on BioNTech. Earlier this month Pfizer said it would expect remuneration for its Covid patents from western economies and even commercially viable terms for contract manufacturing in developing economies.

 

Pandemic waves govern BioNTech stock

The BioNTech share price has largely mirrored the course of the Covid pandemic. It rose sharply in the first few months of 2021 as countries around the world launched their vaccination programmes.

The stock soared 383.8% between the end of March 2021 to mid-August to reach a 52-week high of $464 in premarket trading on 10 August. As the first phase of vaccinations slowed down and case numbers dropped, the share price had plunged 41% from that high by the start of November. Towards the end of the year it recovered again to climb 28% during the month of November to $351.74 as vaccine demand surged again amid the rise of the omicron variant.

Since then, the share price has fluctuated since the start of 2022 to close at $161.10 on 25 March, up 6.8% since the start of the month.

These highs and lows suggest that the BioNTech share price is still strongly influenced by the pandemic and potential vaccine demand, though the company has been seeking to diversify into other therapeutic areas and develop its research and development capabilities.

Oncology and R&D boosted Q3 sales

In the three months ending 30 September, BioNTech reported earnings per share of €13.14, up from a loss of $0.88 in the year ago-quarter. Revenues came in at €6.1bn, up from €67.5m a year earlier.

The company forecast that as many as 3 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be manufactured by the end of 2021 and anticipated capacity to reach up to 4 billion doses in 2022.

It wasn’t just about its Covid vaccine. The company generated €47.2m in research and development revenues, up from $28m in the previous quarter. In the third-quarter update, management highlighted the expansion of its 15-strong novel cancer therapies portfolio, with particular developments in the treatment of colorectal cancer.

“We had a strong quarter with regard to our oncology pipeline. We now have four programmes in Phase 2 development, as our pipeline advances into later stage trials,” Şahin said.

Covid vaccine outlay for BioNTech?

Analysts will seek out any new guidance on expected Covid vaccine sales in 2022. Pfizer forecasts $36bn in full year vaccine sales, dropping to $29bn next year.

Zacks Investment Research analysts say, however, that the partnership is working on an omicron-specific vaccine and a bivalent Covid vaccine, which could keep sales healthy.

These expectations could change if a virus mutated into a more aggressive form and bypassed existing vaccines. There is also still a large amount of work to do in emerging markets, with BioNTech planning to set up manufacturing sites in Africa by the middle of next year.

Covid and its variants will be around for years to come and BioNTech’s revenues will continue to benefit, but analysts will also want to hear more about its treatment of other diseases, including cancer.

According to 16 analysts polled by MarketWatch, the stock has a consensus ‘overweight’ rating and an average price target of $257.55, representing a 60% upside from the 25 March closing price.

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