21 April 2024

Is Pfizer Stock A Buy On Guidance For $15 Billion In Covid Vaccine Sales?

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Pfizer stock took a hit in early February on a disappointing fourth-quarter report, though the company called for $15 billion in full-year Covid vaccine sales.

That followed disappointing news for Pfizer's (PFE) blockbuster arthritis drug Xeljanz. Xeljanz fell short of a rival medicine in a key study. But Pfizer stock benefited when the company said its BioNTech (BNTX)-partnered Covid vaccine could fend off mutated forms of the virus.

Still, Pfizer stock remained down 6% for the year in midday action on Feb. 2.

Pfizer and BioNTech also have inked new supply deals for their vaccine. The U.S. government agreed to buy up to 200 million doses. That's enough to inoculate 100 million people. The companies will also ship 40 million doses to COVAX, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income levels.

So, all things considered, is Pfizer stock a buy right now?

Pfizer Stock Fundamentals: Earnings Miss Forecasts 

During the fourth quarter, Pfizer said $11.68 billion grew 12% year over year. But that lagged estimates for $12.01 billion. Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan noted many analysts still included Pfizer's Upjohn business in their estimates. In November, Pfizer merged that established drugs until with Mylan to create Viatris (VTRS).

Adjusted earnings of 42 cents per share grew 14%, but missed forecasts for 51 cents.

In the current quarter, analysts polled by FactSet expect Pfizer earnings of 78 cents a share on $12.49 billion in sales. Earnings would surge 30% and sales would rise 4%.

Big institutional investors — who account for up to 70% of all market trades — usually look for stocks with accelerating earnings and sales growth.

Further, PFE stock isn't meshing with CAN SLIM rules for investing, which tell investors to seek stocks with year-over-year earnings-per-share increases of at least 25%. Investors should also keep an eye out for stocks with 20%-25% sales growth in the most recent quarter.

Pharmaceutical Company's Annual Metrics 

Pfizer's sales popped 2% last year to $41.91 billion. That excluded the Upjohn unit.

But that was still off Pfizer's last year of strong gains in 2010, when total revenue jumped 34%.

Top sellers in 2020 included cancer drug Ibrance, which generated $5.39 billion in sales, up 9%. Sales of blood thinner Eliquis, produced in a partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), popped 17% to $4.95 billion. Sales of Prevnar 13, a pneumonia vaccine, were flat at $5.85 billion.

Xeljanz, which is facing scrutiny for a recent post-marketing study, generated $2.44 billion, rising 9%. Vyndaqel and Vyndamax, which treat a condition that can cause heart failure, brought in $1.29 billion.

For the 2021 fiscal year, analysts surveyed by FactSet call for Pfizer to earn $3.07 a share, minus some items, up 38%. Sales are expected to pop 22% to $58.3 billion. Pfizer guided to adjusted earnings of $3.10-$3.20 per share and $59.4 billion to $61.4 billion in sales.

PFE Stock News: Xeljanz Study Hits Hard 

Pfizer stock tumbled 2.9% on Jan. 27 after the company said rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz failed to outperform a rival medicine in a post-marketing study. The test was performed in patients ages 50 and older at risk of a cardiovascular event, like a hear attack.

Xeljanz only had to prove it wasn't inferior to the rival drug, known as a TNF inhibitor. That didn't happen. Now, Pfizer said it's working with the Food and Drug Administration to analyze the results.

On Oct. 1, Pfizer announced that its investigational gene therapy candidate to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy in boys received a Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company is rivaling Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) in treating this muscular disease.

On Oct. 9, the company said a Phase 3 clinical trial of its drug Ibrance in treating certain types of early breast cancer did not meet its primary goal.

Pfizer Stock Rises On Coronavirus Vaccine 

Pfizer and BioNTech expect to make 2 billion doses of their coronavirus vaccine in 2021. A number of countries — including the U.S., U.K. and Canada — have authorized the vaccine for emergency use. That was based on Phase 3 testing showing the Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective at blocking the virus.

U.K. health officials are investigating two allergic reactions in recipients. Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to supply the U.K. with up to 40 million doses in 2020 and 2021. The companies now say they can make up to 2 billion doses in 2021, up from earlier estimates for up to 1.3 billion.

The U.S. government has a deal for 200 million doses and an option to buy 400 million more. Pfizer and BioNTech also have deals in Canada and Japan, as well as an agreement to sell 300 million doses to the European Commission.

Side effects have been limited in testing groups. Following either shot, 3.8% and 2% of volunteers, respectively, reported severe fatigue or headache. In the FDA's briefing documents, the companies noted four cases of Bell's Palsy and 64 cases of enlarged lymph nodes in vaccinated participants.

The coronavirus vaccine relies on the body's own machinery to produce a specific substance meant to ignite an immune response. Moderna (MRNA) and Translate Bio (TBIO) are also both testing coronavirus vaccines using the same messenger RNA technology.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca (AZN) has said its coronavirus vaccine was 70.4% effective, on average, in a Phase 3 test. Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) single-shot vaccine was 66% effective. Novavax (NVAX) said its double-shot regimen was 89.3% effective.

Technical Analysis: PFE Stock Isn't Forming A Base 

Pfizer stock isn't currently forming a definitive chart pattern.

Shares briefly broke out on Nov. 9 after shares topped a buy point at 39.55 out of a flat base. But Pfizer stock later fell as much as 9.4% below that entry on Nov. 17. That triggered a sell rule when shares tumble 7%-8% below their entries.

As of midday trading on Feb. 2, shares were below their 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

Shares of Pfizer have a poor IBD Composite Rating of 18. The 1-99 measure pits a stock's key growth measures against all other stocks. Leading stocks tend to have CRs of 95 or better, according to IBD Digital.

Pfizer stock also has a weak IBD Relative Strength Rating of 6 out of a best-possible 99. The RS Rating measures a stock's 12-month running performance against all other stocks. That RS Rating means Pfizer stock tops just 6% of all stocks in terms of performance.

The pharmaceutical company's EPS Rating, a measure of profitability, is a 66 out of a best-possible 99. The EPS Rating compares a stock's recent and longer-term earnings growth against all other stocks.

So, Is Pfizer Stock A Buy Right Now? 

Based on CAN SLIM rules of investing, PFE stock isn't a buy right now. Shares briefly topped a buy point out of a flat base on Nov. 9, but couldn't hold onto their gain. It's best to buy a stock when it's within 5% above a buy point. Pfizer stock also isn't forming a new base.

Further, the pharmaceutical company is expected to report growth in the first quarter, but sales growth won't be bullish enough to line up with CAN SLIM advice.

It is important to keep tabs on how Pfizer stock performs as it develops a coronavirus vaccine with BioNTech. Results appear promising so far, but it will be important to see how the company ramps its manufacturing now that it has authorization in the U.S.

Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. In comparison, Moderna says its vaccine is stable at standard refrigeration temperatures for 30 days.

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