Stock Market

The Delta Variant Gives Novavax an Outside Chance of Upside

Originally, when the novel coronavirus first became a thing, Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) showed great promise. While other vaccine developers were experimenting with pioneering nucleic-acid-based technologies, Novavax went with a subunit mechanism, a proven approach used in the hepatitis B vaccine. Theoretically, that should have been great news for NVAX stock and it was, at least for a while.

Novavax (NVAX) logo surrounded by medical supplies

Source: Ascannio/Shutterstock.com

No matter how you look at it, Novavax is a Covid-19 winner. Prior to the pandemic, the company was staring at a complete implosion, having failed to deliver much of substance to stakeholders.

Throughout most of 2019 and going into the early months of 2020, NVAX stock traded in single-digit territory. Historically, shares have seen dramatic surges to triple digits.

Now, it’s back into familiar territory. As I write this, NVAX stock is trading hands above $234, an impressive turnaround from just before the crisis. However, Wall Street doesn’t look in the rearview mirror. It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business and here’s where it gets tricky.

As Sciencemag.org reported last week, the federal government ordered Novavax to stop making vaccines in the U.S. and said “it will offer the company no more manufacturing funding until it passes muster with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) strict manufacturing requirements, such as ensuring each lot of vaccine has the same potency.”

Unsurprisingly, NVAX stock suffered volatility following the disclosure. It wasn’t just the bad news but also that the underlying company has been suffering a series of setbacks. While the vaccine may provide a viable alternative to popular messenger-RNA-based solutions, investors understandably don’t want to be taken on a roller-coaster ride.

Still, the bullish argument centers on Novavax’s international catalysts, which may boost NVAX stock. If you’re going to take this route, though, you should prep yourself for possible turbulence.

NVAX Stock Is Still in the Game

To me, Novavax has the makings of a late-inning comeback. You never want to completely rule out a team because one well-placed shot could spark a chain reaction. Of course, late-inning comebacks are rare, which is why I’m not exactly holding my breath for NVAX stock.

But again, you don’t want to count anybody out if they have a mathematical chance for survival and success. Admittedly, NVAX stock may have something cooking because of the escalating threat of the delta variant.

First, Reuters recently reported that Denmark will buy 280,000 doses of Novavax’s vaccine. Earlier in August, the European Commission stated that it had “approved a supply contract with Novavax to buy up to 200 million doses,” although the European Union’s drug regulatory agency has yet to approve the vaccine. Still, it reflects international optimism for the company’s distinct approach.

Second and perhaps much more critically, India is in desperate straits for vaccine availability. According to a report from BBC.com, “nearly 11% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated with two doses.” That’s a very low figure considering that outside of the U.S., India takes dubious honors for the most Covid-19 cases.

Further, Novavax has a clear advantage regarding international distribution. According to Genengnews.com, “Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373 requires shipping and storage” at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

That’s considerably better than what Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) can do, with its popular mRNA vaccine requiring shipping and storage at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit). As you’ll recall, even advanced western countries scrambled for ultra-cold freezers because the Pfizer vaccine was infrastructurally demanding.

Fortunately, Novavax doesn’t have that problem. At least, not to the degree that its rivals do.

Novavax Isn’t Immune from Risks

Although the fundamental backdrop for NVAX stock may appeal to contrarians, it’s also not without risks. While India is a viable market for Novavax, this fact is also the reason why it has attracted biotechnology competitors from other nations.

Further, how the Covid-19 crisis pans out is another variable that’s difficult to account for. A great example of this is that while Novavax’s solution has a key advantage regarding less onerous infrastructural requirements, subunit vaccines are relatively “complex to manufacture,” according to Gavi.org.

Therefore, if the Covid-19 crisis escalates into something much worse than it is right now, Novavax will be at a manufacturing disadvantage to mRNA vaccines. Indeed, the rapid-fire ability for mRNA-based solutions to enter the market was a key reason why Pfizer and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) leapt to the front of the line.

That’s not to say that the situation for NVAX stock is completely hopeless because it’s not. However, if you’re going to take the contrarian approach, you should take the time to perform your due diligence.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.

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