Moderna plans stock buyback, shares soar

STORY: Shares of Moderna climbed as high as almost 17% in morning trading after the vaccine maker announced a $3 billion share buyback plan when it reported earnings on Wednesday.

Moderna also said it was keeping its full-year sales forecast for COVID-19 vaccines unchanged, as canceled orders from low- and middle-income nations offset gains from new booster orders.

Moderna has begun producing a redesigned booster that targets both the original coronavirus as well as Omicron subvariants.

It signed a $1.7 billion deal with the U.S. government last week for 66 million doses to be available this fall and winter, if they're cleared by health regulators.

Despite that big contract, Moderna kept its sales outlook unchanged as doses earmarked for the COVAX vaccine sharing program remain unallocated due to low demand.

CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview outright that the unchanged sales forecast was "because of COVAX," adding that "COVAX does not want the doses that they have ordered."

Moderna and rival Pfizer have been banking on recurring booster doses, including an Omicron-tailored version, to garner more vaccine contracts.

Moderna reported $4.5 billion in COVID vaccine sales in the second quarter, but took a near half a billion dollar charge related to vaccines that have expired.