Most vaccine makers have been the cynosure of the Covid-19 storm over the past year, but Serum Institute of India beats them all by a mile. As the world’s largest vaccine maker and the contract manufacturer for Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine, Serum became the hope for many middle- and low-income countries. Its Covid-19 vaccines haven’t hit the market at the speed speed WHO COVAX updates participants on delivery delays for vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) and AstraZeneca Read more it may have desired—due to both political political Hindustan Times Govt's biggest Serum Covid-19 vaccine order covered just 4% of population Read more reasons and an accident accident Times of India Serum fire incident: Losses pegged at over Rs 1,000 crore Read more —but its earlier expansion bets have placed Serum in an enviable position.

The company has already added more than one billion doses to its existing capacity, and even that doesn’t seem to be enough. It has signed an exclusive licence for another Covid vaccine, which uses a brand-new technology called SpyCatcher. It could also end up making a much-awaited malaria vaccine which impressed impressed BBC Malaria vaccine hailed as potential breakthrough Read more the world last week with its clinical trial results. So, when the British Prime Minister announced on Monday that Serum would invest £240 million ($333.5 million) in the vaccine business in the UK, people close to CEO Adar Poonawalla weren’t surprised. A cash-rich company diversifying into other geographies post a turbulent year of vaccine nationalism is nothing if not strategic.

Consistently in a high-margin business, family-owned Serum’s valuation, even though nobody’s business, has been multiplying rapidly. In the financial year ending March 2020, it earned a neat 41% net margin. Going by private equity math, the company would be valued at ~$9.5 billion (25X its Ebitda Ebitda Ebitda Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, is a measure of a company's overall financial performance and is used as an alternative to net income in some circumstances ). By the current pharma industry average P/E standards and the company’s FY20 net profit, the company would be valued at about $15B. However, given the pandemic-induced demand spurt for vaccines, the company might well be valued at between $17 billion to $26 billion (based on its estimated numbers for the last fiscal year and the ongoing one).