After steep cost cuts, Novavax's fourth-quarter performance falls short of expectations

As Novavax emerges from its “transition year” in 2023, the vaccine maker is still raising concerns among Wall Street investors in early 2024.

The company's loss per share of $1.44 exceeded analyst expectations of 45 cents per share, CNBC reports, while its fourth-quarter revenues of $291.3 million came short of the analysts' estimate of $322 million. Novavax's stock was trading down by about 23% just before 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Amid plummeting COVID vaccine demand, Novavax last year initiated cost cuts, manufacturing modifications and laid off 30% of its workforce.

In all, the vaccine maker reduced its full-year 2023 operating expenses by $1.1 billion, or 41%, versus 2022, the company said in an earnings release Wednesday. Through aggressive cost-cutting, Novavax exceeded the goal for its previously stated savings plan by $150 million across R&D and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses.

On the revenue side, Novavax generated $984 million last year, down from the $2 billion it scored over the same period in 2022. Last year's total net loss came to $545 million, showcasing why the company has been so focused on cutting costs.

Looking ahead, Novavax aims to generate sales between $800 million and $1 billion in 2024. The company expects total first-quarter revenue to clock in at approximately $100 million. 

Novavax’s restructuring scheme comprises one of three priorities the company set out to complete in 2023.

Elsewhere, the company also angled to deliver an updated COVID-19 vaccine for the 2023 fall vaccination season. It also seeks to leverage its technology platform and portfolio to create a future beyond its pandemic shot Nuvaxovid.

To the first point, the U.S. FDA expanded its emergency use authorization (EUA) to include Novavax’s updated protein-based shot in early October. Novavax says it subsequently gained “commercial experience” in the U.S. and has made efforts to recalibrate its U.S. field teams for the commercial COVID shot market.

In the company's pipeline, Novavax is working on a COVID and flu combo shot.