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Pfizer drops after issuing weaker 2022 outlook, dragging COVID-19 vaccine makers Moderna and Novavax down with it

A person receives a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Tel Aviv on January 3, 2022.

JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

  • Pfizer stock fell 4% on Tuesday after its 2022 revenue and profit guidance was below expectations.
  • The drugmaker projects 2022 revenue of $98 billion to $102 billion, below estimates of $104 billion.
  • The lower-than-expected guidance dragged down other COVID-19 vaccine makers like Moderna and Novavax.
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Pfizer stock fell 4% on Tuesday after the COVID-19 vaccine maker revealed 2022 profit and revenue estimates that were below Wall Street’s expectations.

The guidance miss dragged down other COVID-19 vaccine makers in early Tuesday trades, including Moderna, Novavax, and Pfizer’s partner, BioNTech. Pfizer also announced fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, but revenue was a slight miss.

Here were the key numbers:

Revenue: $23.84 billion, versus analyst estimates of $24.2 billion
Adjusted earnings per share: $1.08, versus analyst estimates of $0.87
2022 revenue guidance: $98 billion to $102 billion, versus analyst estimates of $104.1 billion
2022 adjusted earnings per share guidance: $6.35 to $6.55, versus analyst estimates of $6.73

Despite missing 2022 expectations, Pfizer’s underlying business is firing on all cylinders, driven by its COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral. The company raised its Comirnaty vaccine revenue outlook to about $32 billion in 2022, and said its Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral could generate about $22 billion in revenue this year.

Paxlovid generated $76 million in revenue in the fourth quarter after it received FDA authorization in late December.

Despite Pfizer’s record financial results, investors seem to be preparing themselves for the eventual decline in COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral-related revenue, as the pandemic begins to recede. Since Omicron cases peaked last month, daily cases are down upwards of 90% in some Northeastern states.

Barring the resurgence of another variant, the steady decline of COVID-19 cases would be a welcome sign to the world and economy, but not so much to investors in vaccine makers like Moderna, Novavax, and BioNTech. 

While Pfizer can rely on sales of its non COVID-19 related drugs, like blood thinner Eliquis and JAK inhibitor Xeljanz, Moderna generates all of its revenue from the sale of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Shares of Moderna, BioNTec, and Novavax fell 4%, 6%, and 9%, respectively, in early Tuesday trades. Novavax still has not received authorization or approval for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. 

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