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Is ARCA biopharma (NASDAQ:ABIO) In A Good Position To Invest In Growth?

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should ARCA biopharma (NASDAQ:ABIO) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

See our latest analysis for ARCA biopharma

Does ARCA biopharma Have A Long Cash Runway?

A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When ARCA biopharma last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$10.0m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$5.7m. That means it had a cash runway of around 21 months as of June 2019. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqCM:ABIO Historical Debt, November 3rd 2019

How Is ARCA biopharma's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because ARCA biopharma isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Notably, its cash burn was actually down by 58% in the last year, which is a real positive in terms of resilience, but uninspiring when it comes to investment for growth. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

Can ARCA biopharma Raise More Cash Easily?

There's no doubt ARCA biopharma's rapidly reducing cash burn brings comfort, but even if it's only hypothetical, it's always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund further growth. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive growth. By looking at a company's cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year's cash burn.

ARCA biopharma's cash burn of US$5.7m is about 70% of its US$8.2m market capitalisation. Given how large that cash burn is, relative to the market value of the entire company, we'd consider it to be a high risk stock, with the real possibility of extreme dilution.

How Risky Is ARCA biopharma's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of ARCA biopharma's cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. While we always like to monitor cash burn for early stage companies, qualitative factors such as the CEO pay can also shed light on the situation. Click here to see free what the ARCA biopharma CEO is paid..

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.