Novavax Executives Sold $46 Million Worth of Stocks Amid 2,731% Gains in 2020


US pharmaceutical company Novavax saw its stock hit various highs in 2020 as vaccine trials progressed. According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, it was among the market winners during the year, skyrocketing an incredible 2,731% year-over-year (YoY).

Based on Marketwatch data, its share price as of January 29, 2021 was $170.10 from only $4 in January 2020. At its peak in August 2020, the stock was up by 3,875% from the beginning of the year. Not surprisingly, it was ranked as the highest performer among coronavirus stocks in 2020. It was one of the best-performing stocks overall among stocks with market caps above $200 million.

One of the initial drivers of the mind-boggling run was the success of the phase 3 trial of its flu vaccine candidate in March 2020. Shortly thereafter, the company received $388 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The funds would assist to pay for COVID-19 vaccine development. After that, Novavax got a $1.6 billion grant from the US government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS). In total, the company received around $2 billion from third parties. Considering that it started 2020 with a market capitalization of about $130 million, that was a huge capital influx.

Capitalizing on the close to 3,000% share price gains, Novavax executives sold around $46 million worth of company stock in 2020.

According to a Reuters report, the Chief Executive, Stanley Erck sold shares worth $8.7 million during the year. That was close to four times the $2.2 million worth of shares he had sold over the previous five years.

The Chief Commercial Officer sold shares worth $13 million, the head of research and development $13.4 million and the chief legal officer $10.9 million.

Novavax Vaccine Candidate 89.3% Effective on UK COVID-19 Variant

On August 4, 2020, Novavax released numbers for its phase 1 trials, sending share price to a record high of $189 the next day.

According to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the vaccine produced a high number of antibodies in volunteers. The numbers were so impressive that observers at the time called the vaccine ‘best in class.’

After delaying the start of phase 3 trials twice, Novavax finally started at the end of December 2020. On January 28, 2021, Novavax announced that its vaccine was 89.3% effective based on UK phase 3 trials. It was said to work effectively on a worrisome strain of the virus that was circulating in the UK. However, it was less effective (49.4%) on a different variant that was spreading in South Africa. The company has already started working on a modification of the vaccine aimed at the South Africa strain and will begin trials in Q2 2021.

Once Novavax gets authorization, the biotech company has agreements with various countries to deliver approximately 300 million doses of its vaccine. Novavax struck a deal with the US government to distribute 100 million doses of its vaccine at $16 per dose.

In the UK, it has a deal for 60 million doses, 76 million in Canada, 40 million in Australia and 10.7 million in New Zealand. At $16 per dose, the company would rake in $4.5 billion from these countries.

Other agreements include 1 billion doses in India, 250 million in Japan and an undisclosed number of doses in South Korea.

Moderna Share Price Shot Up by 478% in 2020, Pfizer Declined by 0.5%

While Novavax is yet to launch its vaccine candidate, other companies already have. Moderna and Pfizer reported 94.1% and 95% efficacy respectively from their phase 3 trials.

Pfizer, whose vaccine is already on the market, posted a share price decline of 0.5% in 2020. At the end of 2020, its market capitalization was $205 billion. As of January 29, 2021, it was trading at $35.93, up by 2.12% over the trailing year and a market cap of $201.44 billion.

On the other hand, Moderna had a market cap of $44 billion at the end of 2020. At the time, its share price had posted gains of 478% for the whole year.

Other biotech companies with vaccine candidates include AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson was in phase 3 trials at the end of December 2020. AstraZeneca got approval for its vaccine in Britain on December 30, 2020.

AstraZeneca had a return of 0.3% on its stock for the whole of 2020 and had a market cap of $131 billion. Johnson & Johnson’s share price jumped by 5% during the year and its market cap at the end of 2020 was $405 billion.

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