German Smallcap Becomes a Hot Trade on Vaccine Cold Storage Need
(Bloomberg) -- As Covid-19 vaccinations get ever nearer, a little-known German company whose equipment helps keep doses cold during shipping and storage has become a hot stock.
Va-Q-tec AG shares soared 84% in November as firms including Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. reported success in developing shots against the coronavirus. Both vaccines need to be kept cold during storage, with Pfizer’s ultra-low temperature requirement of -70 degrees celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit) more onerous than those of its rival, which says its vaccines can be kept in regular freezers.
“Everybody is gearing up for temperature-controlled logistics now, and awareness is growing that the technology we provide is a key technology,” Va-Q-tec Chief Executive Officer Joachim Kuhn said in a phone interview. The company’s equipment can handle the lowest temperature needs.
Last month’s gains mean Va-Q-tec has more than tripled in 2020, putting it among the top 10 performers in Germany’s broadly composed CDAX index, with its market value reaching 550 million euros ($668 million). The stock’s rally accelerated after the Bavarian company said on Nov. 13 that it had signed an agreement with a “top global pharmaceuticals manufacturer” to provide thermal containers for vaccine distribution and was in advanced negotiations with others, without giving names.
The announcement spurred speculation among analysts over the identity of the prospective client. Stifel’s Florian Martin Pfeilschifter pointed to Johnson & Johnson, which has said it expects to know the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate come January or February. Moderna could be one of the next customers, taking into account remarks on timing and cooling requirements made by the management, Pfeilschifter said.
A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson declined to comment. Moderna, which this week requested clearance for its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S., also declined to comment.
According to Kuhn, Va-Q-tec may produce thermal containers for sale and rental “in the lower thousands” this year, a number that may be “five to ten times larger” in 2021.
The impact on sales is likely to be significant. Metzler analyst Guido Hoymann sees Va-Q-tec’s revenue rising to 99 million euros in 2021, from an estimated 72 million euros this year. The recently announced deal would represent about 10% of 2020 sales, with the possibility of more orders to come, he wrote in a note Thursday, raising his share price target to 45 euros from 31.5 euros. The stock last closed at 42 euros.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.