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BioNTech shares slip on gloomy Covid vaccine sales outlook

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Vials containing the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are displayed before being used at a mobile vaccine clinic, in Valparaiso, Chile, January 3, 2022.

Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters

Shares of BioNTech on Monday slid by more than 6% in morning trading after the German drugmaker shared a gloomy 2023 sales outlook for its Covid vaccine jointly developed with Pfizer

BioNTech delivered solid quarterly earnings earlier in the morning that beat expectations but said revenue fell slightly from a year ago due to lower demand for the company’s Covid vaccine, which is its only marketed product. The drugmaker expects that demand to fall further this year, forecasting Covid vaccine revenue to hit 5 billion euros, or $5.4 billion. That’s a steep decline from the 17.3 billion euros, or more than $18 billion, in 2022. 

The shares initially fell by 6.4% to an intraday low of $119.98 a share before rebounding in late morning trading. By noon, the stock was down by about one percentage point.

BioNTech noted in an earnings release that its efforts to adapt the Covid vaccine to new strains of the virus are expected to increase demand for the product this year. Last fall, the company launched the world’s first omicron-adapted Covid booster with Pfizer and sold roughly 550 million doses as of mid-December.  

But the company added that it expects fewer primary series vaccinations and lower booster uptake this year. BioNTech also said it’s renegotiating its supply contract with the European Union’s executive body, which could potentially spread vaccine deliveries across multiple years and reduce volume. 

The company’s dismal outlook didn’t appear to weigh on Pfizer shares, which were relatively flat Monday morning. 

BioNTech is the latest company to forecast a slump in demand for Covid products as the world emerges from the pandemic. Its partner Pfizer told investors in January that it expects Covid vaccine sales to plummet by 64% this year and sales of its Covid antiviral treatment Paxlovid to drop by 58%. 

BioNTech and Pfizer became household names during the pandemic after creating one of the first vaccines to become available globally using messenger RNA technology. BioNTech is hoping to beef up its own drug pipeline, outlining efforts to use mRNA technology for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. 

“As we look to 2023 and beyond, we plan to continue investing in our transformation with a focus on building commercial capabilities in oncology and working towards registrational trials,” the company said in the earnings release. BioNTech added that its “mid-term goal” for the year is to seek approval for several cancer products. 

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