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3 Stocks to Win Big as Race for Coronavirus Vaccine Heats Up

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The relentless rise in new coronavirus infections in the United States raised a lot of concern among health officials, with several states adding restrictions. What’s more, states like Minnesota, Tennessee and Alabama recently reported a staggering number of death cases in a single day, bolstering the requirement of a vaccine to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
 
No doubt, several drug manufacturing companies, including biotech firms, are striving to come up with a cure by conducting extensive clinical trials. It’s worth mentioning that to develop and distribute a vaccine in the retail market, it takes almost a decade. But given the gravity of the scenario, the race toward a coronavirus vaccine at the earliest has certainly picked up.
 
And now we may expect good news! After all, some of the drug manufactures are on the brink of introducing a coronavirus vaccine, which surely calls for keeping an eye on such stocks. At the same time, the COVID-19 vaccine market is pretty vast, which unquestionably gives other players the scope to make the most of the opportunity as well. 
 
Among the front runners, of course, is Moderna, Inc. (MRNA - Free Report) . The company’s Phase 3 clinical trials have shown that its coronavirus vaccine candidate has been 94.5% effective at protecting people from the virus. The month-long clinical study was conducted on 30,000 volunteers, with only 95 people being reported to have developed COVID-19 symptoms.
 
The clinical trial has been conducted on young people, elderly and even ethnic minorities, and the vaccine has shown enough signs of safety. Moderna has asked the federal regulatory authority to clear its vaccine candidate for emergency usage as early as feasible. However, the authority is still willing to wait till the end of this month for further safety reports from the study.
 
Nevertheless, if Moderna’s vaccine, jointly developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gets a green signal from the regulators by the end of this month, it may well be the first company to launch the COVID-19 vaccine, a heartening development amid the rising coronavirus cases and hospitalization.
 
Moderna’s vaccine candidate, by the way, uses mRNA technology. It’s a relatively new technique that utilizes genetic material to activate the immune system in a body. Meanwhile, on Nov 16, Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, in the press release said that “this is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters. This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”
 
Obviously, shares of Moderna jumped 9.6% on Nov 16. In fact, the company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year as well as the next five years is 20% and 43.4%, respectively. Additionally, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its next-year earnings has risen more than 100% over the past 60 days. Most importantly, Moderna currently has an encouraging debt profile, a Growth Score of A and a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
 
Interestingly, Moderna’s vaccine news came in just a week after Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) claimed that its coronavirus vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective. Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech SE (BNTX - Free Report) developed the vaccine candidate, which hasn’t found any major safety issues and is currently seeking emergency authorization for people aged 16 to 85. Notably, the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, like Moderna, also uses mRNA technology (read more: 2 Stocks to Watch on Pfizer's 90% Effective COVID-19 Vaccine).
 
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Pfizer’s current-year earnings has moved up 1.1% over the past 60 days. In addition, the company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next five-year period is 3.2%. Presently, Pfizer possesses a Zacks Rank #3.
 
Lastly, unlike Moderna and Pfizer, pharma behemoth Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) isn’t claiming the effectiveness of its coronavirus vaccine at present. But its vaccine candidate isn’t lagging behind and is now going through Phase 3 clinical trial. In fact, what stands out for Johnson & Johnson is that compared to its peers, it has a robust distribution system and doesn’t require new infrastructure to get the vaccine to people who require it.
 
The company’s supply chain boasts latest technologies like robots and self-driving cars, to name a few. Nevertheless, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings has risen 1.5% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next five years is 5.7%. Johnson & Johnson too has a Zacks Rank #3.
 
Shares of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, in the meantime, have gained 45.2%, 5.2% and 10%, month to date, respectively.
 

 

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Free Report >>

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) - Free Report >>

Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) - Free Report >>

BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX) - Free Report >>