Moderna joins the S&P 500 after its Covid vax success — but its real power is the platform

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

Happened mRN-ASAP... Today, Moderna joined the prestigious S&P 500 index. The "Club 500" membership gives the 11-year-old biotech some serious Wall Street cred. Trillions of dollars are invested in funds that mirror the S&P 500 index, which tracks the 500 most valuable US public companies.

  • Investors use the S&P 500 as an indicator for how the overall market is doing, and can invest in S&P-tracking funds, which include a combo of every stock in the index.
  • Fund managers now have to buy Moderna stock to track the index, so Moderna shares have popped 18% since the S&P news broke on Thursday. But S&P-joining rallies (if they happen), don't necessarily last long.

Major booster shot... Pre-pandemic, Moderna was a little-known biotech startup worth $6B — with zero products on the market. In May 2020, Moderna was a $27B biotech working on a Covid vax — still, with zero products. Today, Moderna is a household name worth $123B, and its Covid vaccine has been injected into the arms of 63M Americans.

  • Fresh profits: In May, Moderna revealed a whopping $1.2B profit on $1.7B in vax sales — its first profit ever.
  • Fresh tech: Pfizer's and Moderna's Covid vaccines were the first mRNA vaccines ever approved for humans. Unlike OG vaccines which use weakened viruses to prompt immunity, mRNA vaxes teach cells to destroy viruses. Intense.
  • Fresh pipeline: Moderna's pipeline includes mRNA vaccines for 10 viruses that are in, or nearing, human trials.

The power lies in the platform... Moderna's investor presentation leads with: "mRNA is a platform." The Covid vax is a billboard for Moderna's cutting-edge platform, which could enable it to churn out all kinds of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics in "record time." 80+ viruses have been discovered since 1980 — but you can only get vaccinated against three of those. Moderna's working on mRNA vax shots for the flu, Zika, HIV, and even cancer. But it faces plenty of risks, including unsuccessful trials and challenges with its new tech.