Moderna vs. Pfizer:  The True Face of Capitalism

 By Shlomo Maital

   Want to understand the true face of capitalism?  Let’s compare the latest  quarterly financial reports of Pfizer and Moderna, the leading COVID-19 vaccine providers.

     First Moderna.   “Moderna Inc. on Thursday posted third-quarter revenue and earnings that soared above year-earlier levels thanks to the success of its Covid-19 vaccine, though both figures were below what analysts had expected.  The Cambridge, Mass.-based pharmaceutical company logged earnings of $7.70 a share, a swing from a loss of 59 cents a share in last year’s third quarter.  The company’s net income was $3.33 billion, compared with a loss of $233 million, it said.  Revenue rose to $4.97 billion from $157 million a year earlier, the company said.  The results missed analysts’ expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast sales of $6.2 billion and earnings of $9.22 a share.

    Moderna said it sold 208 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in the quarter.

    The company’s employee numbers have doubled as the success of the vaccine has boosted its growth. It now has a staff of 2,400, compared with 1,200 a year earlier, the company said.”  The COVID-19 vaccine is Moderna’s only commercial product.

   It’s a WOW, right?   Nope.  “The results missed analysts’ expectations”.  Result?  The stock fell sharply, by 20%, on Nov. 4. Moderna shares are now 40% below their August 9 peak.

     Moderna saves the world with its mRNA vaccine – and achieves brilliant financials —  and its stock falls!   What is behind this?  Moderna’s statement that it intended to focus on supplying vaccine to low-income countries – presumably at affordable prices.  Wall Street says:  You can do good, and we’ll punish you.  You must do well,  as well as we predict – or else.   No more Mother Teresa!

   Now Pfizer.  “Third-Quarter 2021 Revenues of $24.1 Billion, Reflecting 130% Operational Growth;   Revenues Grew 7% Operationally to $11.1 Billion.  Third-Quarter 2021 Reported Diluted earnings per share of $1.42.   Raises Full-Year 2021 for Revenues to a Range of $81.0 to $82.0 Billion and Adjusted Diluted EPS to a Range of $4.13 to $4.18, Reflecting 94% and 84% Year-Over-Year Growth at the Midpoints, Respectively.  60% of Revenues reportedly came from Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

   Pfizer is not acting as Mother Teresa toward poor countries, in selling its vaccine.  And its share price has risen by a third from $33.69 on March 1 to $44.89 on Nov. 3. 

     Let’s offer a vote of thanks to both Pfizer and Moderna, for saving lives.  And let’s also offer thumbs down to Wall St. and the capital markets, who judge companies solely by whether they meet their profit expectations.  

    We need a vaccine, urgently, for shark capitalism.

    And Moderna?  Keep up the great work.