Moderna's price surge today seems to be confirming the bullish analyst outlook on the stock. Ending the day at $76.19, MRNA has posted 7.0% gains, pushing the valuation of the stock even higher. Might the stock be overvalued, despite its buy rating?
Moderna has a P/E ratio of -8.3 based on its 12 month trailing earnings per share of $-9.23. Considering its future earnings estimates of $-5.14 per share, the stock's forward P/E ratio is -14.8. In comparison, the average P/E ratio of the Health Care sector is 24.45 and the average P/E ratio of the S&P 500 is 15.97.
Moderna's P/E ratio tells us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of the company's earnings. The problem with this metric is that it doesn't take into account the expected growth in earnings of the stock. Sometimes elevated P/E ratios can be justified by equally elevated growth expectations.
We can solve this inconsistency by dividing the company's trailing P/E ratio by its five year earnings growth estimate, which in this case gives us a 0.42 Price to Earnings Growth (PEG) ratio. In MRNA's case, the elevated P/E ratio is justified by future earnings growth estimates -- assuming those estimates turn out to be close to reality.
We can also compare the ratio of Moderna's market price to its book value, which gives us the price to book, or P/B ratio. A company's book value refers to its present equity value -- or what is left over when we subtract its liabilities from its assets. MRNA has a P/B ratio of 2.16, with any figure close to or below one indicating a potentially undervalued company.
A comparison of the share price versus company earnings and book value should be balanced by an analysis of the company's ability to pay its liabilities. One popular metric is the Quick Ratio, or Acid Test, which is the company's current assets minus its inventory and prepaid expenses divided by its current liabilities. Moderna's quick ratio is 2.153. Generally speaking, a quick ratio above 1 signifies that the company is able to meet its liabilities.
The last factor we will review in our value analysis of Moderna is its levered free cash flow, which is negative at $-754000000. The levered free cash flow represents the sum of all of the company's inflows and outflows of capital in the last quarter. A negative value means that Moderna has no cash left over to re-invest in the business or to pay equity investors in the form of a dividend.
By most metrics, Moderna is an overvalued stock. So why are analysts giving it such a generous rating? It probably has to do with their perception of its strong growth potential, as represented by its low PEG ratio. For growth-oriented investors, MRNA is represents an interesting opportunity despite its elevated valuation. They just need to be sure that the growth story will come true. We will continue to monitor the stock to see which thesis prevails.