Key points:

  • Moderna reported unexpected fourth-quarter earnings of $217 million ($0.55 per share).
  • COVID vaccine sales in 2023 are down 43% compared to 2022.
  • Moderna shares rose 8% after the report.

Moderna unexpectedly posted a profit in the fourth quarter, benefiting from cost reductions and deferred payments. The company unveiled its commercial strategy for vaccines in Europe and its experimental respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) shot.

In early trading, Moderna’s shares surged by 8% to $94.65, although this remains significantly below the peak reached during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 when shares hit an all-time high of $497.49. The company faced a downturn last year due to diminishing demand for COVID-19 vaccines and anticipated losses in 2023.

The reporting surprised even the company itself

Moderna reported profit for the quarter of $217 million, or 55 cents per share. At the same time, analysts expected a loss of 97 cents per share.

Moderna Chief Financial Officer James Mock said in an interview that the company beat its own forecast due to a $600 million revenue surprise from international vaccine group Gavi. According to him, last year the company also saved about $300 million by adjusting production volumes.

Progress in the fight against COVID has reduced profits

Moderna recorded $2.8 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales for the fourth quarter, marking a 43% decline compared to the same period in 2022, but aligning with analysts’ predictions. During an investor call, the company announced its involvement in the European Union’s 2024 tender, aiming to provide the EU with a potential annual supply of up to 36 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for a duration of four years.

Compensation for losses

The company has been banking on its experimental shots, including for RSV, influenza and cancer, to offset revenue declines from COVID.

Moderna expects a decision on U.S. approval of the RSV vaccine to be made by May 12. The company said it also plans to launch the RSV vaccine in Germany and Australia this year. Analysts estimate that this project will bring in $280 million in 2024.