Moderna market value shrinks to $6.1 billion

Moderna shares sank on their first day of trading as investors gave a chilly reception to one of this year’s splashiest stock market debuts.

The biotechnology company that is aiming to make personalized cancer vaccines fell 19 percent to $18.60 Friday, a disappointing start for what had been one of the most richly valued private health-care start-ups.

The listing is likely to be the last in what has been a banner year for initial public offerings by biotech firms. Before Moderna’s debut, some 53 biotech companies had gone public this year on U.S. exchanges, raising $5.7 billion overall. That topped the previous record of $5.27 billion raised by such IPOs in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Moderna expanded the size of its offering Thursday to sell almost 26.3 million shares at $23 each, in the middle of the marketed range of $22 to $24 a share, according to a statement. The offering gave the company a market value of about $7.85 billion, topping its $7 billion valuation after a $500 million private funding round in February.

By Friday’s close, Moderna’s market value had shrunk to $6.1 billion.

The IPO’s vast size and rich price may have played a role in its poor performance, analysts suggested. Moderna has no approved products on the market and has consistently lost money as it ramps up its research and drug-development efforts.

— Bloomberg News

Marlboro maker takes stake in cannabis firm

One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies is diving into the cannabis market with a $1.8 billion buy-in.

Marlboro maker Altria Group is taking a 45 percent stake in Cronos Group, the Canadian medical and recreational marijuana provider said Friday.

The agreement includes a warrant to acquire additional shares over the next four years that could give Richmond-based Altria a 55 percent ownership stake in the Toronto company.

That would mean Altria’s investment would be in the same league as the $4 billion spent earlier this year by Constellation Brands to acquire shares of Canopy Growth, another Canadian pot producer.

The August investment by Constellation, which makes Corona and other beverages, was the largest to date by a major U.S. corporation in the cannabis market.

Whatever hesitation larger corporations in the United States had about entering the cannabis market appears to be fading if there is a financial justification.

Altria’s huge investment lit up shares of cannabis companies that have begun to set up shop in Canada, where recreational use was legalized this year.

U.S. traded shares of Cronos Group jumped 22 percent Friday.

— Associated Press