BioNTech cuts 2023 revenue guidance by 20%, but touts its financial position

Following suit with other companies that produce COVID-19 vaccines, BioNTech has discovered demand for its Pfizer-partnered, omicron-adapted shot has not met expectations this fall and has had to adjust its revenue guidance.

In the case of the German drugmaker, with the Comirnaty shot as its lone commercial product, the adjustment accounts for a 20% drop in projected sales. BioNTech now expects its 2023 revenue to reach 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) versus its previous estimate of 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion).

While it’s a huge drop in sales from 19 billion euros in 2021 and 17.3 billion euros in 2022, the company stressed its sound finances on Monday as it presented its third-quarter earnings.

BioNTech opened 2023 with 13.9 billion euros in cash and cash equivalents, with the amount growing to 17 billion euros by the end of the third quarter “due to our steady cash collection,” chief financial officer Jens Holstein said during a conference call.

Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, which reported their quarterly earnings last week, BioNTech did not take a loss in the quarter, reporting $0.67 earnings per share, which surprised analysts. With the earnings beat, BioNTech’s stock price surged by 6%, in contrast to its 2023 trend as shares have fallen by more than a third.

One of the surprises came by way of Pfizer as its third-quarter inventory write-offs had less impact (508 million euros) on BioNTech than the company expected (900 million euros). Holstein added that inventory write-downs in the future on adapted versions of Comirnaty will “be something, but not at all at that magnitude.”

As a result of the decreased revenue projection, BioNTech has further slashed its R&D projection for 2023 to a range of 1.8 billion euros to 2 billion euros. In March, the company expected the investment to fall in the 2.4 billion euros to 2.6 billion euros range.

With several projects in the works that will require phase 3 trials—including a combined COVID and flu vaccine—the company is facing increased R&D costs over the next few years and is investigating ways to conduct trials at a “cheaper scale,” Holstein added.

During the conference call, BioNTech deflected some questions to an investor event on Tuesday, when the company will go into depth on its pipeline.

Overall, BioNTech reported third-quarter sales of 895 million euros versus 3.46 billion from a year ago.

The company still sees Comirnaty as a “long-term source of revenue,” Ryan Richardson, BioNTech’s chief strategic officer, said.

“We expect the continuation of several market shifts to play out,” he added. “Those include the continued opening of private markets and the shift to commercial pricing globally, along with the continued transition from multi-dose vials to single-dose vials and prefilled syringes, which can bring upside opportunity to the franchise.”