The CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) share price has been rebounding lately after hitting a 52-week low of $242.00 on 9 March. Since then, the company has gained 12.95%, with CSL shares currently trading at $273.35.
The global biotech has been busy producing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine while attempting to combat plasma collection concerns. Could this be the catalyst for its recent share price rise?
What’s driving the CSL share price higher?
Investors appear upbeat about the company’s progress to address its current issues as well as its attempts to open up new opportunities.
As announced on 14 April, CSL has been focused on increasing its plasma-protein production through its launch of a global challenge. The company is inviting members of the public to submit innovative ideas on how it can maximise its production of Human Immunoglobulins G (IgG). The person who wins will receive a $40,000 reward along with 1:1 mentoring sessions with CSL Behring.
CSL certainly appears to be thinking outside the box and actively pursuing creative programs to overcome its plasma concerns. This comes against the backdrop of a COVID-19-related reduction in the collection of plasma, which is vital for the company’s production of life-saving therapies.
In more recent news, the Australian Government’s push to locally manufacture mRNA coronavirus vaccines is gaining media attention. However, United States drug titan Pfizer has dashed any hopes of securing a licensing agreement to locally produce its COVID-19 vaccine here in Australia in the short term. The company said that it’s focused on existing vaccine manufacturing facilities across North America and Europe.
However, this hasn’t stopped the Victorian Government from pledging $50 million for a plan to create a local mRNA vaccine manufacturing ability in the future. This would protect national supply and eliminate shipment blocks such as the recent Italian fiasco. Developing such a capability could take less than a year, provided CSL was on board.
Currently, the Morrison government has placed an order for 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which is expected to be fulfilled by the end of 2021. As the Pfizer vaccine trickles in, the doses will be distributed to people under the age of 50 years old. The AstraZeneca vaccine has now been allocated for use in patients over 50 years of age due to rare, blood-clotting side effects seen in some younger people.
So far, almost 1.8 million Australians have received their first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine. CSL is contracted to fill a government order of 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It hopes to achieve local production of 1 million vials per week.
It’s been an eventful 12 months for the CSL share price, which has moved in peaks and troughs across the period. The company’s shares rose to a high of $322.75 last April, before falling to 2019 lows of $242.00 this year.
Year-to-date performance has seen CSL shares register a drop of just 4% due to an uptick in investor sentiment. Over a 12 month period, its shares have slightly improved to record a fall of around 11%.
As the ASX’s third-largest company by market capitalisation, CSL is worth $123.22 billion.