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Moderna Expects mRNA Will "Solve the World's Greatest Health Challenges" in 2022

Moderna's CEO Stephane Bancel says its mRNA platform 'can be the answer to a lot of problems.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel has big plans for the future.

The CEO of Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report said in a letter to shareholders on Monday that "we believe Moderna could become the most impactful drug company in the world."

"A strand of mRNA can bind science, technology and humanity together to build a healthier planet," he said.

Bancel said the biotech had shipped about 800 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine--its only commercial product- to more than 60 countries in 2021 and more than tripled the amount of cash and cash equivalents it held.

"2021 was a year of monumental impact and change for Moderna," he said. "After a decade of pioneering the development of our mRNA platform, we were ready and well-positioned to play a critical role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic globally with our mRNA vaccine."

Moderna Has More mRNA Products in the Pipeline

In his letter, Bancel other products the company was working on, including a flu vaccine and combined flu and Covid booster.

Bancel said the company believes its mRNA platform "can solve the world’s greatest health challenges—from diseases impacting millions to medicines personalized down to the individual level."

He is scheduled to present an update on the company and its pipeline of mRNA development programs at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday, 

Moderna Stock Has Been Volatile

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company, which went public in 2018, reported $7.3 billion in earnings on sales of $11.3 billion through the first nine months of 2021

"As we close our books for 2021, the company’s cash, cash equivalents and investments as of December 31, 2021, were more than $17 billion," Bancel wrote. "We now have the resources to scale our investments and do even more to positively impact human health with mRNA medicines. This is just the beginning."

Moderna's stock took quite a ride in 2021. After reaching a high of $484 a share, shares were recently trading at $215. And the company has received support from analysts recently.

On Wednesday, Piper Sandler analyst Edward Tenthoff reiterated his overweight rating on Moderna with a $348 price target after the company dosed the first subject in the Phase I Eclipse study of its Epstein-Barr virus vaccine candidate mRNA-1189.

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Tenthoff said said Moderna's Covid vaccines revenue will continue to drive its profitability. He forecasts SpikeVax revenue of $17.5 billion in 2021, peaking at $21 billion in 2022 with "several years of revenues to follow."

Cowen analyst Tyler Van Buren had a similar view when initiated coverage of Moderna in December with a market perform rating and a $250 price target.

Van Buren said that demand for Covid booster shot should be robust for the foreseeable future and the variants of concern, with the tail of the vaccine franchise likely to be "longer and fatter than many assume."

Meanwhile, Argus analyst Jasper Hellweg slashed his price target on Moderna to $350 from $420 but kept his buy rating, maintaining that the stock's discounted price offers a buying opportunity.

Moderna Has Not Been Without Controversy

Moderna has also run into controversy. Activists and politicians have been pushing Moderna to cut prices on its Covid-19 vaccine and expand production for poorer countries, the Financial Times reported.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), a London-based asset manager, said Moderna’s shareholders deserve to know how U.S. government funding for Covid vaccines affects “access to such products, such as setting prices”.

LGIM said that shareholders at the annual meeting to ask management to explain "whether and how Moderna's receipt of government financial support for development and manufacture of a vaccine for COVID-19 is being, or will be, taken into account when making decisions that affect access to such products, such as setting prices."

In mid-December, Moderna wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking the agency not take action for excluding the document from the proxy statement it will file ahead of its 2022 annual shareholder meeting, as the company "will have substantially implemented" the proposal by the time it company files the proxy materials. 

On Thursday, Bancel said people may need a fourth shot in the fall to increase their protection as the efficacy of boosters against Covid-19 will likely decline over time.

Bancel made his comments on the same day the world surpassed 300 million known cases of the coronavirus, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University,

“I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel said on CNBC. “We have been saying that we believe first this virus is not going away. We’re going to have to live with it."

Moderna is slated to report earnings on Feb. 24.