The influenza virus is a dynamic bug that changes annually which means health conscious consumers get a new cocktail of viruses in their vaccinations each year. Of course, flu shots are still a crapshoot since unpredictable mutations are always a possibility. Flu season is in full swing. This year, the Center for Disease Control has targeted the following 3 strains, a couple you may even recognize from years past.
- A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Victoria/36/2011 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus (from the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses)
Business Section: Investing IdeasWhile there is still no flu panacea of sorts, the morphing disease has kept things interesting for biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the vaccine business. Quadrivalent solutions may see better profit margins in a limited market of about 130-150 million Americans (less than half) each year. For big firms, flu vaccines are a minor source of revenue. For example, The business brings in about $718 mil for Novartis, less than 2% of yearly revenue. But small companies have taken the unpredictable into their hands, on the lookout for better, more stable solutions to influenza. Think of the vaccine shortage in 2004 or the 2009 “swine” flue pandemic. These are ongoing issues that don’t have reliable protective measures. Major flu vaccine manufacturers: 1. AstraZeneca PLC ( AZN, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Develops, and commercializes prescription medicines for cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, oncology, and respiratory and inflammation diseases worldwide. Market cap at $57.66B, most recent closing price at $46.31. 2. GlaxoSmithKline plc ( GSK, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, and marketing of pharmaceutical products, over the counter (OTC) medicines, and health-related consumer products worldwide. Market cap at $105.01B, most recent closing price at $42.73. 3. Sanofi ( SNY, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Engages in the discovery, development, and distribution of therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Market cap at $118.38B, most recent closing price at $44.66. 4. Novartis AG ( NVS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Engages in the research, development, manufacture, and marketing of healthcare products worldwide. Market cap at $164.35B, most recent closing price at $60.73. Companies developing a universal vaccine: 5. Dynavax Technologies Corporation ( DVAX, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Dynavax Technologies Corporation, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, discovers and develops novel products to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Market cap at $514.68M, most recent closing price at $2.88.