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Novavax stock jumps 50% as Sanofi deal kicks off turning point for struggling vaccine maker

Shares of Novavax jumped as much as 50% on Monday as Wall Street cheered the company's new multibillion-dollar deal with French drugmaker Sanofi that sparked a dramatic turnaround for the struggling vaccine maker.

Novavax's stock almost doubled on Friday after it announced the licensing agreement with Sanofi. Novavax on Friday said the deal allows the company to remove its "going concern" warning, which it first issued in February 2023 due to major doubts about its ability to stay afloat.

"It really does help our business. It keeps us well capitalized, it takes the going concern off, it gives us the chance to pivot our strategy more towards what we're best at — to bring additional value to all of our stakeholders, including our shareholders," Novavax CEO John Jacobs told CNBC in an interview. 

Under the agreement, Sanofi will take a less than 5% stake in Novavax. The deal also entitles Novavax to an upfront cash payment of $500 million and future payments contingent on certain milestones, as well as royalties. 

Sanofi, one of the world's largest vaccine makers, will co-market Novavax's Covid vaccine in most countries starting in 2025. The deal also allows Sanofi to use Novavax's Covid shot and flagship vaccine technology, Matrix-M adjuvant, to develop new vaccine products. The shots includecombination jabs targeting Covid and the flu. 

In a note Sunday, Jefferies analyst Roger Song said the deal will provide significant capital to Novavax and support the company's growth. 

"Economically, the deal is highly lucrative and impactful," Song wrote. 

He said the upfront payment helps remove investor worry about Novavax's going concern warning, and that milestone payments are "significant and relatively near-term" for the company