Frankfurt After two record years, Mainz-based Biontech SE is heading for significantly lower revenues in the Covid vaccine business. Irrespective of this, the biotech company intends to continue to massively expand its research and increase its spending on research and development (R&D) by more than half to up to 2.6 billion euros.
This emerges from the figures presented on Monday for the 2022 financial year and the forecasts for the current year.
In 2023, the company will continue to invest in the transformation of the company and also focus on building commercial capacities in the field of cancer therapy, said company boss Ugur Sahin. “Our mid-term goal is to seek approval of multiple oncology products in cancer indications with high unmet medical need.”
In the past year, Biontech achieved sales of 17.3 billion euros and a net profit of 9.4 billion euros. This corresponds to a decline of a good eight percent in each case compared to the previous year. The operating result fell by 17 percent to 12.6 billion euros.
For 2023, Biontech expects a further decline in sales of Covid vaccines by a good 70 percent to around five billion euros. With a view to the Covid business, the Mainz-based company is a little more cautious than its US partner Pfizer, which has so far expected its sales of the Covid vaccine Comirnaty to fall by almost two-thirds to $ 13.5 billion in 2023.
Biontech and Pfizer co-developed the mRNA-based Covid vaccine and share gross profits from the business, with Pfizer accounting for the lion’s share of sales. The sales reported by Biontech therefore consist primarily of earnings from the partnership. This in turn results in the Mainz-based biotech company’s unusually high operating margin of almost 73 percent in the past year.
Covid vaccine: EU supply contract is renegotiated
According to Biontech, the sales forecast for 2023 is based on the assumption that the vaccine business will gradually shift from purchasing contracts with governments to regular orders in the pharmacy market.
An existing supply contract with the European Commission, which previously provided for the delivery of up to 1.8 billion doses of the Covid vaccine, is currently being renegotiated – with the possibility “that the deliveries of vaccine doses will be staggered over several years and/or that the volume will be reduced could,” it said on Monday.
>> Read also: Pfizer acquires cancer specialists for $43 billion – shareholders receive high purchase price
While Biontech expects an increased demand for vaccine adaptation, the company expects fewer first vaccinations and a lower rate for booster vaccinations within the general population. It assumes that seasonal business will develop, which means that the expected sales will be shifted significantly to the second half of the year.
Covid business funds research
Assuming that the Covid business will continue to deliver a similarly high gross margin as before, Biontech should still be heading for an operating result of one to two billion euros in 2023. The current Comirnaty proceeds will therefore continue to be sufficient to fully finance the strong expansion of the other research programs.
In addition, thanks to the Covid business of the past two years, the company has unusually high cash reserves. Cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2022 were reported at EUR 13.9 billion. In addition, there are 7.1 billion euros in trade receivables. These are earnings entitlements from the alliance with Pfizer that will be paid out over the course of the year.
Biontech wants to use these resources to expand its own research program through further acquisitions, as CFO Jens Holstein made clear. Holstein is willing to “invest in M&A transactions and collaborations to create future growth for the company.”
>> Read also: Pharmaceutical companies criticize the location Germany
In recent weeks, as part of this strategy, Biontech has already agreed to take over the British data specialist Instadeep and to acquire the rights to a potential cancer immune drug from the US company Onco-C4, for which an approval-relevant phase 3 study will start later this year should.
Earlier this year, Biontech also agreed a strategic alliance with the UK government to accelerate clinical development of cancer therapies and vaccines in the UK.
Biontech: More than 500 vacancies in Germany
In total, Biontech is now testing six new vaccines against infectious diseases and 20 potential cancer drugs in clinical trials. The biotech climber is thus already more broadly positioned in oncology projects than Bayer and Merck together. With additional deals, the Mainz-based company is now apparently aiming to further strengthen the range of projects that are already at an advanced stage.
The Mainz-based company also intends to expand significantly in terms of personnel. Contrary to what some media and politicians have assumed, there is little evidence of a relocation of R&D activities to Great Britain. Around 620 vacancies are currently advertised worldwide on Biontech’s career portal, of which 535 are in Germany, 65 in the USA and seven in the United Kingdom.
More: Healing cancer with immune cells – the miracle therapy becomes possible for everyone