Is Cathie Wood Buying The Rumor? Ark More Than Doubles Stake In This COVID-19 Vaccine Maker Ahead Of Flurry Of Catalysts

Money manager Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest has a favorite biotech holding now, going by the firm’s recent buying activity.

What Happened: Ark, through its flagship Ark Innovation ETF ARKK and Ark Genomic Revolution ETF ARKG, has been brisk with its acquisition of Moderna, Inc. MRNA shares in March. The latest purchase was on Wednesday when the two funds lapped up 90,627 Modena shares, valued at $9.34 million.

Ark’s current Moderna holdings are as follows:

Shares heldValue of holding
ARKK518,756 $54.53M
Source: Ark Invest

Ark’s 13F report filed with the SEC in mid-January shows that the firm held 437,403 Moderna shares at the end of the fourth quarter, with the value of the holding at $43.50 million. Since the fourth quarter, the Wood-run firm’s Moderna stake has more than doubled.

Moderna is now the 19th biggest holding of ARKG and the 31st biggest holding of ARKK.

The Moderna buying spree this year began on March 11. Ark was a buyer again on March 12 before pausing purchases on March 13 and 14. It resumed buying on Friday, March 15, and added more of the stock on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

See Also: Best Biotech Stocks Right Now

Why It’s Important: Even as Ark continued to pile into Moderna, it has cashed out of bigger peer and rival COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer, Inc. PFE. The firm held 499,757 Pfizer shares at the end of the fourth quarter, valued at $14.39 billion.

Moderna and Pfizer were among the companies that made a kill during the pandemic, with revenue and earnings skyrocketing amid surging sales of vaccines and drugs. With the pandemic abating, these companies faced a COVID-19 cliff in 2023, and consequently sales and earnings plummeted.

Moderna, which once relied mainly on its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine named Spikevax, has diversified its pipeline. Its advanced pipeline (Phase 3) now comprises a next-gen COVID-19 vaccine, a flu vaccine, a respiratory syncytial vaccine for adults, a combo COVID-19+flu vaccine, and a CMV vaccine.

For the fourth quarter, the company reported above-consensus revenue of $2.81 billion, with its share of the COVID-19 retail market at 48% during the fall 2023 COVID-19 season, an increase from 37% in 2022. The company also reaffirmed its 2024 revenue guidance of $4 billion, premised on COVID-19 vaccine sales and the initial sales of the yet-to-be-launched RSV vaccine.

Moderna expects RSV vaccine approvals from global regulatory agencies, beginning in the first half of 2024. The PDUFA date for the vaccine is May 12 and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will potentially recommend the vaccine in a June 26-28 meeting, said Morgan Stanley analyst Terence Flynn in a late-February note.

The next catalyst would be Moderna’s fifth annual Investor Event focused on vaccines and business updates, due March 27. The first-quarter earnings report could tentatively drop in early May.

Moderna ended Wednesday’s session down 1.93% at $103.08, according to Benzinga Pro data. The stock has gained 3.7% this year, lagging the broader market advance. The average analysts’ price target for the stock is $132.43, according to TipRanks. This suggests a scope for roughly 30% upside potential.

Read Next: Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Sells Another Tranche Of Block Shares, Even As Bitcoin Price Stages A Recovery

Photo by Lutsenko_Oleksandr on Shutterstock

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