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Shares of Moderna Inc. have been on a tear lately, making the Covid-19 vaccine-maker the top performer in the S&P 500 this year.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna’s stock price has surged 267% in 2021, handily trouncing all other companies in the benchmark index. Retailer Bath & Body Works Inc., recently rebranded from L Brands Inc., follows in a distant second, with a 120% year-to-date gain. Only two other companies in the S&P 500—steel producer Nucor Corp. and cybersecurity stock Fortinet Inc. —have, based on Friday’s closing prices, seen their stock double this year.

The vaccine maker’s outperformance is the latest win for Moderna. The company, which before the pandemic had yet to commercialize a product, has reported roughly $5.9 billion in Covid-19 vaccine sales in the first half of the year. It has already signed $12 billion in advanced purchase agreements—with an additional $8 billion in options—for its coronavirus vaccine next year. Meanwhile, the stock is being embraced by both professional and individual investors, who together drove the stock as high as $497.49 intraday, an all-time-high, this month. It closed Friday at nearly $383.

That combination has vaulted Moderna to a more than $150 billion market capitalization, down from its peak of roughly $200 billion intraday earlier this month. Still, Moderna’s current market cap ranks it higher than pharmaceutical powerhouses Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, as well as retail pharmacy chain CVS Health Corp.

Few analysts and investors predicted that Moderna, a company founded just over a decade ago, could have found success—or swelled to its current market cap—as quickly as it did. Even at the end of last year, after its Covid-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization in the U.S., many questioned whether the stock would continue to rise after it already surged 434% in 2020.

Source: WSJ

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