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Moderna gains as UBS upgrades on ‘underappreciated’ pipeline

UBS analysts have revised their stance on Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) shares, upgrading them from Neutral to Buy and adjusting the price target to $191 per share (reduced from the previous $221).

In their analysis, the analysts emphasize that Moderna’s potential extends beyond its COVID vaccine. They point out that MRNA shares have declined by approximately 35% year-to-date and have dropped around 75% from their peak during the pandemic in 2021.

“While we recognize the uncertainty surrounding the commercial and endemic COVID market, as well as the uncertainty regarding revenues in 2023, which have been a significant concern for investors, we are upgrading our recommendation at this time,” stated the analysts in a note to clients.

They explain their decision based on two key factors. Firstly, the analysts believe that the current valuation reflects substantial risks to COVID vaccine revenues but fails to account for the potential of Moderna’s pipeline beyond COVID. Secondly, they highlight the progress in Moderna’s pipeline, with upcoming advancements in mRNA vaccines targeting RSV (potential launch in 2024), flu (Phase 3 data by the end of 2023), and the promising CMV Phase 3 study, which could potentially enroll participants in 2023 and present a significant opportunity (worth over $3 billion) in the broader field of latent virus vaccines if successful.

UBS’ analysis specifically indicates that the market has not fully recognized Moderna’s potential for mRNA vaccines beyond COVID, which the analysts believe is undervalued.

The analysts concluded by stating, “We consider MRNA’s CMV vaccine as a significant potential driver of growth in the next 1-2 years.”

Additionally, UBS identifies a market opportunity for Moderna in RSV that exceeds $10 billion. The combination of COVID and RSV vaccines, which Moderna is uniquely capable of offering, is estimated by the analysts to be worth $123 per share, which is close to the current stock levels.

In pre-market trading on Monday, shares of Moderna have risen by nearly 3%.

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