The worst of covid may be behind us (hopefully), but those bad babies that kept us safe from harm continue to kick a$$. Leading covid vaccine producer and American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson keeps smashing those healthcare goals – after the company jabbed millions of people (with a single dose, while the rest did it in two), it shook up the industry with the takeover of heart pump maker Abiomed in a $16.6bn all-cash deal. And that was in November 2022, when the era of easy money was but a thing of the past. J&J weathered the bear market of the same year unscathed with a flat stock, at a roughly half a trillion-dollar valuation.
A well-known name during covid, New York-based Pfizer developed the first vaccine approved for jabbing. And it became a reason for dads to tell their embarrassed kids they pfeel pfine after getting their arms jabbed. Pfizer, in concert with German biotech firm BioNTech, had developed and shipped more than 4 billion vaccine doses in nearly every country in the world. The US drugmaker with a $274bn valuation is closing 2022 with hefty sales of about $100bn, one-third of it generated from covid vaccine sales, which have almost doubled in price in a year. What’s more, Pfizer is thinking about a four-fold price hike to $130 in 2023.
AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical behemoth, brought in revenue of $33.14bn for the first 10 months of 2022. The figures were buoyed by oncology and rare disease drugs, as covid vaccine sales marked a pronounced decline while the world was shifting away from the pandemic. Its covid shot, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, accounted for $180mn in revenue for 3Q22, down from $1.1bn the same quarter the previous year. If it seems low compared to larger rivals, it’s likely because AstraZeneca never received the vaccine go-ahead from the US – an effort that the roughly $200bn company decided to abandon in mid-2022.
Moderna, the company that lives and breathes covid vaccines, keeps chugging along and inventing new booster shots. One of its latest updated authorized shots arrived in November 2022 and promised a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants. While Moderna generates protection against virus woes, its stock could do with a booster shot against market woes. Shares of the Cambridge, Mass.-based pharma company were down about one-fifth over the first ten months of 2022, as the stock’s valuation floated near $70bn. Moderna expects about $5bn in sales from secured covid vaccine contracts for 2023, down from about $18bn in 2022.
Novavax – the slow-walker among covid vaccine makers. After multiple failed trials, the US drug manufacturer received Europe’s greenlight in December 2021, a year after Pfizer first cracked the code. Novavax became the fifth available covid shot for people in the old continent. Three months later, peeps in the UK rolled up their sleeves to get the Novavax jab too. In August 2022, the firm slashed its full-year guidance by a good 50% to around $2bn. The move sent shares in free fall, down 30% that day. Over the course of the first ten months of 2022, Novavax stock erased more than 80% of its value to sit at a market cap of around $1.3bn.
Sinovac Biotech is a Chinese drugmaker responsible for producing the Sinovac vaccine that became one of the most commonly used coronavirus shots in China. The vaccine maker, however, couldn’t keep up with the twists and turns of the covid virus and by the time the Omicron variant arrived (Nov. 2021), Sinovac’s breakthrough provided insufficient antibodies, as per Hong Kong researchers. While the company is headquartered in China, its stock was last spotted on the Nasdaq Global Market in February 2019. Trading was halted over a proxy fight and was never reopened. The last public dealmaking activity valued the company at about $460mn.
German biotech company BioNTech was instrumental in the fight against covid – working together with Pfizer to usher in the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine. 2021 was the year of covid-boosted gains, and covid-related stocks got a solid injection of capital. BioNTech’s stock was among the biggest winners with shares finishing the year higher by over 200%. But value can be gained as quickly as it can be taken away. By January 2022, BioNTech had wiped out over half of its peak valuation as the pandemic effect faded. For the third quarter of 2022, the company reported revenues of €3.5bn, down from €6.1bn for the same quarter last year.
China-based drug manufacturer Sinopharm Group is one of the first Chinese pharmaceutical companies to work on developing a messenger RNA (mRNA) covid shot. Its more popular jab, and widely available in its homeland, uses an inactivated vaccine against the virus. Together with its smaller rival Sinovac Biotech, Sinopharm has provided more than 2.8 billion doses to 1.2 billion people in China. Sinopharm is listed in Hong Kong and its stock showed pretty stong resilience in 2022 – amid a broader market retreat, the stock, valued at around $7bn, was mostly flat over the year but still in the red since the 2009 market listing.