Johnson & Johnson: The Dark Horse Of The Covid Vaccine Race?

by Trefis Team
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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is seen as a key player in the Covid-19 vaccine race. The company started phase 3 trials in September and expects to file for emergency approval by early 2021 if the vaccine is safe and effective. While rivals Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines will have a head start, given that they have completed phase 3 trials with exceptionally strong results and are likely to start shipping their vaccines in the coming weeks, Johnson & Johnson’s candidate remains promising for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the company is targeting a single-dose regimen for the vaccine, unlike most of the other players which require two doses (although it also started a two-dose regimen to evaluate incremental benefits). This should make it much easier to administer at the time of a pandemic, putting less stress on the healthcare infrastructure. Secondly, the distribution could also be relatively seamless as the vaccine is expected to remain stable for at least three months at refrigerator-like temperatures, unlike some other vaccines (such as Pfizer’s) that need specialized freezers. The vaccine is also likely to be relatively affordable. Per a deal with the U.S. government, Johnson & Johnson has priced its vaccine at about $10 per dose. That’s well below Pfizer’s ($19 per dose) and Moderna ($25 to $37 per dose). Although the vaccine is unlikely to move the needle for the company in the near-term, as it will provide the shots for a not-for-profit basis through the pandemic, it could have an incremental impact post that.

See our indicative theme of Covid-19 Vaccine stocks – which includes a diverse set of U.S.-based pharma and biotech companies developing Covid vaccines.

[Updated 11/4/2020] Covid-19 Vaccine stocks

Our indicative theme of Covid-19 Vaccine stocks – which includes a diverse set of U.S.-based pharma and biotech companies developing Covid vaccines – is up by about 560% year-to-date, on an equally weighted basis, compared to the S&P 500 which has gained just about 4% over the same period. While most vaccine stocks declined last week, amid a broader sell-off in the markets, they are likely to come back into the spotlight as efficacy data from late-stage trials is expected from frontrunners Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) in the coming weeks. Below is a bit more on the companies in our theme of Coronavirus Vaccine stocks and their relative performance.

Novavax (NVAX), a vaccine development company, began late-stage trials of its Covid vaccine in the U.K in September, and large-scale phase 3 trials are due to begin in the U.S. and Mexico this month. While the company doesn’t have any other products on the market yet, its flu vaccine NanoFlu could be ready for potential FDA approval. The company has received about $1.6 billion in funding from the Federal government. The stock has soared 2,000% year-to-date.

NVAX

Moderna (MRNA) , a clinical-stage biotech company, is carrying out phase 3 trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, completing enrollment of 30,000 participants. The company is likely to have data on whether its vaccine works or not by this month, and has noted that it would seek emergency approval from the FDA if the vaccine is at least 70% effective. The stock is up 253% this year.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Unlike most other vaccine candidates, which are likely to require two shots, J&J is targeting a single-dose vaccine. While the company had to pause trials in mid-October after an illness was reported in a volunteer, the company is now preparing to resume trials.  The stock is down by -5.1% this year.

Pfizer (PFE) is working with German partner BioNTech on a Covid-19 vaccine. The company is likely to have efficacy data from late-stage trials available shortly. The company could supply about 40 million doses in the United States in 2020 if the data is positive and regulators approve the vaccine. The stock is down by about -7.6% this year.

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