About Moderna Inc
Moderna is a US pharmaceutical and biotechnology company. It was founded in 2010 by Stanford University postdoctoral fellow Derrick Rossi, along with Timothy A. Springer, Kenneth R. Chien, Bob Langer, and Noubar Afeyan, with the latter helping fund the company through his venture capital firm. Its headquarters are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Formerly known as ModeRNA Therapeutics, the brand name is a combination of the words “modified” and “RNA”. Within two years of being founded, the company reached a unicorn valuation of over $1bn and has continued to grow in recent years. In particular, it played a key role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
What does the company do?
Moderna engages in drug discovery and development, with a heavy emphasis on artificial mRNA (messenger RNA) cells. The company’s focus is on infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
The company has over 20 clinical programmes in development, 15 of which have entered clinical studies. Some of its most significant vaccine candidates are for influenza, cancer, and HIV. Over the years, it has worked with other biotech and pharmaceutical giants such as AstraZeneca, Merck, and Vertex Pharmaceutical to develop therapies using its industry-leading technology platform.
The company’s first and, as of 2022, only commercial product is the Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax.
How did Moderna progress throughout Covid-19?
The company rose to prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic as a primary candidate for the development of a vaccine, which was then authorised for distribution to the public across multiple countries at the start of 2021. Moderna’s vaccine was the second to be approved by the FDA in the US and the third to be approved in the UK.
Before this, the company was relatively unknown to the public, despite having worked with some of the industry’s largest companies. When it was announced that Moderna was a front-runner for vaccine trials, many were sceptical of the product as the company hadn’t yet produced a medicine.
Nevertheless, it has the second highest dose administration rate in the US behind the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to Statista.
The company employs over 1,800 workers across its three offices, two of which are in Cambridge, MA, with the other in Paris.
Moderna has the largest market capitalisation of any company in the relatively niche mRNA market, with fellow coronavirus vaccine candidate BioNTech its closest competitor. However, in the wider biotech sector, Moderna is a smaller-cap option for investors. It has consistently reported profits over recent years and has no debt on its balance sheet.
MRNA stock overview
Moderna is listed on the Nasdaq exchange in New York under the ticker MRNA. It’s a constituent of the blue-chip Nasdaq 100 and is also listed on the S&P 500 index. Moderna stock debuted on the Nasdaq at $23 a share in December 2018 in the largest biotech IPO in history, according to Fortune Magazine, raising $621m.
The company’s share price has experienced multiple boosts in recent years. Between 2018 and 2020, Moderna’s share price was fairly stable, trading between $15 and $20. In February 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, it was the first company to send vials to the US National Institute of Health (NIH) for a potential vaccine to combat the Covid-19 virus. Its stock jumped over 15% in after-hours trading as investors bought into the hype, and continued to grow throughout the year.
Another rally started in late November 2020 when the stock was trading at around $153. The company reported positive vaccine results, with trials showing the drug to be over 94% effective in preventing Covid-19. Moderna’s stock price finished the year up 434%.
The business started to roll out the vaccine in the US and worldwide at a slower pace than expected, causing its price to drop at the start of 2021. However, its biggest rally came later that year as the share price reached an all-time high of $497 in August 2021 – an increase of 2,267% from pre-pandemic levels. According to the Boston Globe, the company had the highest valuation among its biotech peers in the US.
Since reaching new highs, many biotech and pharmaceutical companies have experienced share price slumps as the world gradually adapts to living with Covid-19. As more people are vaccinated and demand for the vaccine decreases, Moderna’s future is becoming uncertain, given that Spikevax remains its only commercial product to date. The company will therefore need to develop new treatments if it is to continue bringing in revenue and maintain investors’ attention.
See also Smith & Nephew (LSE:SN), Silverback Therapeutics(NASDAQ:SBTX), Pfizer(NYSE:PFE).