A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a big one in this case. Last week, COVID vaccine researcher Vaxart (VXRT) reported preclininal study results suggesting ingestion of its oral coronavirus vaccine VXA-CoV2-1 helped to reduce viral loads in lab hamsters.
Indeed, according to Vaxart, the new vaccine appeared to provoke “a broader immune response that has the potential to offer superior protection against SARS-CoV-2,” than comparable injectable vaccines. Moreover, because oral vaccinations are obviously less stressful for patients (show me a patient who prefers needles to pills, if you disagree), investors logically took the study results — preliminary as they are — as a good sign for Vaxart stock.
What made them so optimistic?
Brookline’s Raja notes that Vaxart’s news resulted from a “Hamster Challenge” study preparatory to Phase 1 clinical trials. Vaxart says that enrollment of patients to begin those Phase 1 trials has already completed, however, and Raja predicts that investors will be treated to “positive initial data before year end” — a potential catalyst that could drive up the stock price long before Vaxart has a chance to report any more earnings (or losses) news. That right there sounds propitious for a start.
Moving all the way through Phase 3 trials (assuming the vaccine gets that far) could still take the entirety of next year, with distribution beginning no sooner than early 2022. On the one hand, that means Vaxart is going to be getting a pretty late start relative to all the other vaccines coming to market. However, on the other hand, Raja also points out that in a crowded field in which every second biotech on the planet seems to have a Covid vaccine in the works, “Vaxart’s COVID-19 vaccine could potentially be the first oral vaccine” (emphasis added), which would certainly set the stock apart from its peers.
Additionally, Raja notes (and Mamtani agrees) that because Vaxart’s vaccine comes in pill form, it “will not require cold chain for storage and delivery on account of being stable tablets that have long life at room temperature.” This advantage, lacking in most injectable vaccines, says Mamtani, holds the potential to turn Vaxart into “a key player in the second wave of C-19 vaccine candidates.”
To this end, both analysts rate Vaxart stock a “buy” with Raja suggesting a $20 price target on the stock, and Mamtani saying Vaxart stock could go as high as $22.
Overall, Vaxart shares get a unanimous thumbs up from the analyst consensus, with 3 recent Buy reviews adding up to a Strong Buy rating. The stock is priced at $5.57, while the $19.67 average price target indicates room for an impressive 253% growth on the upside. (See Vaxart stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.