Pfizer Vaccine Success Opens a Hot Stock-Market Trade
(Bloomberg) -- The news about Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine has spurred a speculative frenzy in a relatively niche corner of Asia’s stock market.
In South Korea, freezer and cooling circulator maker Daihan Scientific Co. and deep freezer supplier IlShinbiobase Co. rallied further after surging as much as 30% on Tuesday. In Japan, kitchen refrigerator maker Hoshizaki Corp. has added almost 10% over the past two sessions, while peer Fukushima Galilei Co. rose the most intraday in more than two years on Wednesday. Over in India, Snowman Logistics Ltd. was up again after jumping as much as 15% on Tuesday.
Unlike regular vaccines, Pfizer’s messenger RNA-based shot must be stored at an ultra-cool temperature of around -70 degrees celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid it from going bad. While logistics firms around the world operate cold chains, they run in nothing like those temperatures.
In many regions, no one’s quite sure yet as to which companies have the requisite capabilities and would thus stand to benefit from handling the product that almost everyone in the world would want to get their hands on. That seems to have put the focus on firms offering industrial cooling solutions.
“Investors are speculatively buying these names on the logistical difficulties of delivering these vaccines,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market strategist at Securities Japan Inc.
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Given the bets the market has already seen in different phases of the pandemic -- from makers of ventilators to suppliers of medical gloves -- it’s no surprise this new phase is attracting attention. But it’s unclear if the private sector is equipped as yet to meet such a demand, and whether it makes sense over the long-term.
Private firms “would have likely to invest, as none of them would be ready for the load,” said Sebastien Galy, a senior macro strategist at Nordea Investment Funds SA in Luxembourg. “For private companies as a one off cost, it may be too large.”
Existing solutions may be best, especially when it comes to getting the vaccine to developing countries. Japanese consumer electronics maker Twinbird Corp. has soared more than 50% in the two sessions since the Pfizer news broke. It makes freezer boxes using a helium-based technology in collaboration with Global Cooling Inc. Similar boxes could be one solution, UBS analysts wrote in a note this week.
“These are easily available,” the analysts wrote, “and could reach temps low enough to transport a vaccine with the aid of dry ice.”
Trane Technologies Inc. and Carrier Global Corp. are among U.S. stocks that offer such boxes, according to UBS. Makers of liquid nitrogen could also be ones to watch, Securities Japan’s Otani said.
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