Moderna (MRNA) earnings Q1 2023

Moderna on Thursday blew past estimates for first-quarter earnings and revenue, posting a surprise quarterly profit, despite lower demand for Covid vaccines, its only marketable product.

The biotech company generated first-quarter sales of $1.9 billion, driven by Covid shot revenue deferred from 2022. That’s down more than 60% from the $6.1 billion it recorded in the same period a year ago amid a resurgence of Covid cases.

Moderna posted net income of $79 million, or 19 cents per share, for the quarter. That’s compared with $3.66 billion in net income, or $8.58 per share, reported during the same quarter last year.

Here’s what Moderna reported compared with Wall Street’s expectations, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 19 cents per share vs. a loss of $1.77 per share expected
  • Revenue: $1.86 billion vs. $1.18 billion expected

The Massachusetts-based company’s stock rose nearly 4% in early trading Thursday. Its shares are down more than 27% for the year through Wednesday’s close, putting the company’s market value at around $50 billion.

Costs of sales for the quarter came in at $792 million. That included a $148 million write-off for vaccines that have exceeded their shelf life and $135 million from unused manufacturing capacity, among other expenses.

Moderna maintained its full-year guidance of a minimum of $5 billion in revenue from its Covid vaccine, which will come from signed government contracts for the shot.

CEO Stéphane Bancel said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” he believes the company is “well on our way to execute” that target.

The company is also having discussions about new contracts with customers in Europe, Japan and in the US

The US will transition the federal Covid vaccination program to the private market as soon as the fall.

Bancel noted the company is in active discussion with US government agencies, pharmacy chains and hospital systems about new vaccine contracts. Moderna expects more clarity around those contracts over the next four to six weeks.

The company is set to roll out more boosters after the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized additional vaccines targeting the omicron variant for seniors and people with weak immune systems last month.

The FDA is also gearing up for a vaccine meeting in June where external advisors will select which Covid strains new vaccines will target when they roll out in the fall.

Moderna expects the US to need 100 million vaccine doses annually.

But Covid shot demand is still falling as the pandemic eases and the US shifts to an annual vaccination schedule rather than repeated booster doses. That’s left Moderna and rival drugmaker Pfizer scrambling to pivot away from their Covid jabs, which made both companies household names during the peak of the pandemic.

“It’s going to be a transition year,” Bancel told CNBC. He added that Moderna is “investing aggressively to grow the company.”

That means beefing up Moderna’s mRNA-based drug pipeline.

The company’s products utilize messenger RNA technology, which teaches human cells to produce a protein that initiates an immune response against a certain disease.

Moderna President Stephen Hoge on the company’s earnings call highlighted its efforts to make vaccines that target more than one respiratory disease in a single dose, which he said will be “the future of our respiratory franchise.”

The company has five different combination vaccines in early clinical trials, he said.

Bancel told CNBC the company hopes to launch a combination vaccine that targets Covid and the flu by 2025. Those shots will be adapted to the dominant flu and Covid strains circulating.

“So you can just walk into your pharmacy and have one shot and be set for winter,” he told CNBC.

Moderna in April said it hopes to offer a new set of lifesaving vaccines targeting cancer, heart disease and other conditions by 2030.

That lineup includes Moderna’s experimental vaccine that targets respiratory syncytial virus. The company expects to file for full approval of the shot for adults ages 60 and older this quarter.

It also includes Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine, a highly anticipated mRNA shot being co-developed with Merck to target different tumor types. Moderna is also developing a flu vaccine, but the company said the shot did not meet the criteria for early success in a late-stage clinical trial.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that Moderna’s first-quarter revenue was down more than 60%.

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