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Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) were two of the big stars of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).
These stocks saw fast, triple-digit performance, entirely commensurate with companies that, in a matter of months, produced miracle drugs that have saved who-knows-how-many lives and done more than anything else to put "normal" back on the table.
Now all of these biotechs - and other players like Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) - are scrambling to find that "Next Big Thing."
They're looking to stay relevant, or get hot again, in a "post-vax, post-pandemic" world.
That's a tall order. And I've got bad news for folks who think they can throw darts at a list of pharma stocks and come away with a winner, as may have been the case during the vaccine race.
Because only one of these companies is going to make it - the others aren't going to pull it off.
That means we've got some stocks to sell or avoid - and one to buy.
In fact, it's more than a "buy" recommendation. Make this one a core holding - because it's going to be a long-term winner...
It's Not Easy to Hear, But...
I've got to be blunt - it's my job. But I believe this in my core, and my research backs it up.
The fact is Moderna is a one-trick pony. Unless and until it comes up with another homerun drug, MRNA shares are going to continue their journey back to Earth after a run up of 355%.
We're talking about a stock that skyrocketed from $109 at the end of 2020 to a high of $497 on Aug. 10. Since then, however, it's absolutely collapsed, and it's trading way below its 200-day moving average of $254. Moderna is not a great company - it lacks real prospects, meaning its stock is a lousy long-term play.
At the end of 2020, you could have picked up BioNTech for around $80. By Aug. 10, it had skyrocketed to $464. Since then, BNXT's experienced the same freefall as Moderna. It's now just above its 200-day moving average of $224. But it's well below all the other important moving averages, and the shares are just lingering around $265. And like Moderna, it lacks the prospects needed to jump-start its shares.
And who knows if either will ever bounce back in light of their biggest competition rolling out the next "Drug of the Century"...
Get Ready for the COVID-Killer Pill
The coronavirus vaccines were a profound game-changer, protecting recipients from illness outright, or greatly improving outcomes from s0-called breakthrough cases.
But for folks who end up in the hospital with a case of COVID-19, they're not much help.
So, naturally, a therapy for sick COVID-19 patients is the next most hotly anticipated pharmaceutical wonder.
But even here, there are "haves" and "have nots."
Merck, of course, made waves last month when it said it was preparing to submit its data on Lagevrio (molnupiravir) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with an eye toward securing an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) ahead of full approval.
The company said its pill is a COVID-killer. Investors bought the stock left and right.
But as we'll see in a second, molnupiravir is shaping up to be an also-ran. Merck is playing second-fiddle to another company - the stock we're recommending here today.
The Pharma Stock to Buy Right Now Is...
Pfizer - the company revealed earlier this month that it's seeking FDA approval for its antiviral paxlovid pill.
Now, Merck's molnupiravir has been shown to reduce hospitalization or death by 50% - not bad. But Pfizer's data shows paxlovid reduces hospitalization or death by 89%.
It's the winner, and Merck's therapy may well be the No. 2, but for the stock, that just won't do the trick.
Jeffries & Co., the investment bank that follows all the Big Pharma firms, says Pfizer's pill could tack another $10 billion a year onto Pfizer's current yearly revenue of $69 billion.
Pfizer stock hitched a ride on the same rocket ship that launched MNRA and BNTX to orbit, going from $37 at the end of 2020 to a high of $52 on Aug. 18. But unlike Moderna and BioNTech, which each stalled out after flying a little too close to the Sun, PFE shares drifted back down to $41 - then rebounded and shot back up toward highs once again.
Pfizer is now trading well above all its important moving averages and, at $51.33, is pennies away from reclaiming old highs and breaking through to new ones.
And there's a kicker: Pfizer sports a tidy dividend yield of 3.14%. Is that dividend so surprising? No - a company smart enough to produce a highly effective COVID therapy should have management smart enough to treat you like a business partner.
Pfizer is a strong "Buy" right now - and hang onto it until you hear there are no more viruses or diseases out there to battle.
I've got more strong "Buys" to talk about in this market of winners and losers; I've got more urgent "Sell" recommendations to make, too.
I think the winners will be companies that have managed to build a "moat" against the titanic forces that are already moving markets. These stocks could double or triple in years to come. The companies I think you should sell could get their stocks wiped out in the same time frame.
It's all here in November's "Buy This, Not That" update...
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About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.
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