Meme Stock or Vaccine Stock? Novavax’s Identity Crisis and Why It Matters for Investors

Stocks to sell

Does it make sense to invest in COVID-19 vaccine stocks in 2024? It should make sense, at least in theory, since U.S. health regulators effectively gave Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) the green light to target a specific Covid-19 variant. Yet, it’s too late to buy Novavax stock with confidence as meme-stock madness sent the share price to the moon already.

I’ll bet you never imagined that there would be a connection between GameStop (NYSE:GME) and Novavax. Yet, in these bizarre times, there’s actually a link between the two companies, or at least between their stocks. Novavax is a promising vaccine developer, but the current circumstances make investing in their shares challenging.

Great News for Novavax

In a watershed moment for certain American vaccine manufacturers, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that this year’s Covid-19 booster shots should target the JN. 1 variant. That’s great news for Novavax, which had already tested a JN. 1 vaccine in its lab.

Novavax Chief Medical Officer Robert Walker recently asserted, “We are currently manufacturing JN. 1 vaccines.” He added, “In order to have a protein vaccine ready to go Sept. 1, we are prepared to provide the JN. 1 vaccine.”

That’s game-changing news for Novavax, to say the least. It really wasn’t that long ago — February of 2023, to be specific — when Novavax had issued a “going concern” warning and raised “substantial doubt” about the company’s ability to continue operating.

Thus, it’s understandable that Novavax stock staged a pre-summer relief rally. With just an FDA recommendation, Novavax seems to have ascended from a “going concern” underachiever to a serious vaccine-market contender.

More Than Just a Relief Rally

Yet, the spellbinding rally in the Novavax share price this year isn’t, I believe, solely a function of FDA-prompted optimism. Surely, there’s another force at work here, and it has nothing to do with vaccines.

Indirectly, I think “Roaring Kitty” is involved. He’s the meme lord whose real name is Keith Gill, and who inspired legions of followers to buy GameStop stock.

Gill is known as “Roaring Kitty” on social media, and in mid-May, he resurfaced on X (formerly known as Twitter) for the first time in a long time. Consequently, the share prices of GameStop and another meme target, AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC), zoomed higher.

Surely, it’s not just a coincidence that Novavax stock catapulted higher in mid-May, during the resurgence of meme-stock mania. This wasn’t just a relief rally for COVID-19 vaccine stocks; it was a full-on meme parade.

Novavax and the company’s investors got swept up in that parade. As a result, Novavax is overvalued and the share price is dislocated. So, I hate to say it, but at the current price, it makes little sense to take a share position in Novavax.

Sadly, Novavax Stock Is Uninvestable

Novavax could really be turning a corner as the FDA recommends targeting the JN. 1 Covid-19 variant. Novavax could be early to market with a vaccine for this particular Covid-19 strain.

However, “Roaring Kitty” indirectly caused major dislocations in certain stocks. That’s bad news for anyone who wanted to invest in Novavax based on the company’s legitimate comeback story. Thus, Novavax stock needs to pull back to a more sensible price, such as $7.50 or $8, before it would make sense to take a share position.

On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

David Moadel has provided compelling content – and crossed the occasional line – on behalf of Motley Fool, Crush the Street, Market Realist, TalkMarkets, TipRanks, Benzinga, and (of course) InvestorPlace.com. He also serves as the chief analyst and market researcher for Portfolio Wealth Global and hosts the popular financial YouTube channel Looking at the Markets.

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