Shares of clinical-stage biotech company Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) have cooled off considerably after gaining about 1,500% last year. However, it’s still plodding along in developing its oral Coronavirus vaccine candidate, which could enter its second phase by the middle of this year. Many would argue that VXRT stock is a little late to the party, but it could unlock a lot of value for its stockholders if it pulls it off.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for VXRT stock’s shareholders in the past few months. Its 6-month returns are down considerably: 20%. However, its sustaining interest based on several pieces of news flow in the past few months. Analysts believe that the stock is trading at more than 100% discount to its mean price target.
The company maintains that mucosal immunity can prevent Covid-19 and neutralizing antibodies. Hence, it needs to follow through on this thesis with its oral vaccine in its upcoming trials. Moreover, it needs to continue to raise funding for its coronavirus vaccine and other products in its pipeline.
Nevertheless, the potential of VXRT stock makes it attractive in line with some persuasive efficacy data, which legitimizes the company’s approach.
Advantages of Vaxart’s Vaccine Candidate
The first and most obvious advantage of the vaccine is that it’s a pill. Therefore it’s as simple as taking a pain reliever. Moreover, if it proves successful, it would win over many individuals who have been skeptical about the vaccine. According to a poll commissioned by the company, nearly 19 million more Americans could get vaccinated if they could those a pill. Additionally, it could also be a game-changer for developing countries that are unable to fulfill the prerequisites needed to keep the vaccine at a stable temperature.
Another edge that Vaxart’s candidate may have over others is its ability to produce killer T cells. These prevent the infection and work to remove the virus from the body, unlike the vaccines from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA). T cells are likely to play an integral role in coronavirus immunity, according to most scientists.
Additionally, Vaxart’s candidate may also be more potent against new strains. Its targeting isn’t limited to just the spike protein. It targets the nucleocapsid and the spike protein, which effectively broadens its ability to protect against new mutations.
Other Vaccine Programs
Vaxart has been working on quite a few vaccine programs before starting work on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Norovirus is a key area of focus for the company, which opens up a $5 billion to $10 billion market opportunity. This program had been suspended since 2019 but was restarted last year as a phase 1b bivalent study. Later, the management has plans to work on its phase 2 safety and dose confirmation study before moving onto phase 3.
Another couple of focus areas for the company are RSV and HPV viruses. Promising results from rat and mouse models have been obtained so far for the programs targeting the viruses. However, Vaxart is looking for a partner for its RSV program, and therefore, it’s on hold. Moreover, its HPV program is on hold, but feedback on its data package to the FDA has been sufficiently positive to support rapid progression.
The Bottom Line on VXRT Stock
Vaxart was flying high last year after announcing its novel oral coronavirus vaccine candidate. Its development has been moving at a sluggish pace, which has negatively impacted its share price. However, recent results suggest it isn’t out of the race yet.
If it can nail the next few studies in quick succession and prove its thesis, then that will supremely strengthen its bull case. As of now, it’s best to hold the stock and hope it comes through with flying colors in its upcoming studies.
On the date of publication, Muslim Farooque did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Muslim Farooque is a keen investor and an optimist at heart. A life-long gamer and tech enthusiast, he has a particular affinity for analyzing technology stocks. Muslim holds a bachelor’s of science degree in applied accounting from Oxford Brookes University.