Profitability and pipeline in focus at post-pandemic Biontech
Biontech’s shrinking Covid vaccine revenues and its ability to keep turning a profit are crucial considerations for investors, but pipeline progress will soon move into sharper focus. Announcing earnings yesterday, the German biotech said R&D spending could balloon 70% this year, hitting €2.6bn ($2.8bn), as it invests heavily in oncology and infectious disease programmes. Readouts of note this year will include Imcode-001, a front-line melanoma trial testing the neoadjuvant cancer vaccine BNT122 in combination with Keytruda; a strong showing from Moderna at AACR with its similar project could boost hopes here. Berenberg analysts highlighted updates on the Claudin-6 Car-t project BNT211 in solid tumours – AACR last year saw six responses among 14 efficacy-evaluable subjects – and the Genmab-partnered bispecifics BNT 331 and BNT312. Further development plans for ONC-392, the CTLA4 MAb that Biontech last week paid $200m to license, are also awaited; a phase 3 NSCLC trial in PD-(L)1 failures will start later this year. Expect more deals around mid to late-stage assets, execs said, in the sub-$1bn range. For investors focused on profitability, adding to that will need strong justification. Biontech has plenty of cash for now but it is already supporting a substantial pipeline.