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Down 60% From Its 52-Week High, Is Novavax Stock a Buy?

Motley Fool - Fri Apr 12, 5:35AM CDT

In just the past 12 months, Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) stock has plummeted 48% in value. The once-promising COVID vaccine maker has struggled mightily; it was late to getting a vaccine approved and to market, and now with some concerns relating to COVID subsiding, its near-term prospects haven't been looking good, either.

But with the healthcare stock down more than 60% from its 52-week high of $11.36 and at a market cap of around $620 million, has the stock become cheap enough that it's worth it for investors to take a chance on the company?

Novavax continues to focus on COVID

Novavax has an approved COVID-19 vaccine and it's bullish on a combination flu and COVID-19 shot, which is currently in phase 2 trials. It may enter phase 3 trials in the latter half of this year, with a launch possible by 2026. Other vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have also been developing their own combination vaccines to treat both the flu and COVID, so there's sure to be plenty of competition for Novavax.

But the other problem is that COVID just isn't that much of a worry for the public anymore. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, just 28% of U.S. adults say they have received an updated COVID vaccine within the past six months, while 44% have received a flu shot. And only 10% are concerned that COVID could result in hospitalization.

Unless there's a spike in COVID cases, it appears probable that the already low demand for COVID shots could diminish even further in the future.

The company is in cost-cutting mode, but is it enough?

Novavax previously issued a going concern risk, stating that it may not be able to survive. As of the end of 2023, the company had cash and cash equivalents totaling $568.5 million. But last year, it burned through just under $714 million from its day-to-day activities.

The company says it has reduced its operating expenses by 41% compared to the previous year and its workforce is also down 30% from the first quarter of 2023. But for a business without a huge growth catalyst on the horizon, it may still not be enough for the company to avoid dipping into the equity markets to raise cash, diluting existing shareholders.

This year, Novavax projects its revenue will fall within a range of $800 million and $1 billion. But the company is also projecting research and development and selling, general, and administrative costs to total as much as $800 million; there's a strong possibility that Novavax remains in the red. This past year, the company incurred a loss of $545.1 million.

Should you buy Novavax stock?

While its share price may seem cheap compared to where it has been in the past, Novavax still isn't worth investing in right now. The business's operations aren't proving to be sustainable as the company is burning through a lot of cash, and future share offerings remain highly probable. Until that changes and until the company has a product that doesn't have to depend on COVID-related demand, investors are better off staying away from the stock; things could still get worse for Novavax.

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David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Paid Post: Content produced by Motley Fool. The Globe and Mail was not involved, and material was not reviewed prior to publication.

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