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Pfizer CEO Sells Stock Same Day as Vaccine Announcement

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sold nearly $5.6 million of the company's stock on Monday as the share price soared as much as 15% on the news that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective.

Bourla sold 132,508 shares of Pfizer's stock at a share price of $41.94 apiece through a scheduled Rule 10b5-1 trading plan adopted on Aug. 19, the day after Pfizer announced positive results from a Phase 1 study. This was Bourla's third sale of non-derivative securities this year, with the others occurring in February. He still owns 81,812 shares of the company's stock.

Established by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2000, Rule 10b5-1 allows insiders of publicly traded corporations to set up a trading plan for selling stocks they own. The rule permits major holders to sell a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time and is often used by corporate executives to avoid accusations of insider trading.

Bourla joined Pfizer as CEO in Jan. 2019 and took on the additional role of chairman in Jan. 2020. His total direct compensation for 2019 was $15.6 million, including a salary of $1.6 million, according to the company's proxy statement.

Pfizer Executive Vice President Sally Susman, through her own Rule 10b5-1 trading plan, also sold stock, cashing out 43,662 shares at a price of $41.94 apiece for a total of $1.8 million. She still owns 108,804 shares of Pfizer stock.

The executives' stock sales came the same day Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease, based on early data from the ongoing Phase 3 study.1 The companies plan to apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration after they reach safety milestones in the third week of November.

Shares in Pfizer closed up nearly 8% on Monday on the news, valuing the stock at $39.20 apiece.

Pfizer is the first vaccine developer to release Phase 3 data and it is contracted to produce between 100 million and 600 million doses for the U.S. Peers Moderna and AstraZeneca expect to release Phase 3 results this month and by the end of the year, respectively.

[Source: By Elana Dure, Investopedia, London, 11Nov20]

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