We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Cellect Biotechnology (NASDAQ:APOP) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
Does Cellect Biotechnology 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. In September 2019, Cellect Biotechnology had ₪22m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through ₪24m. Therefore, from September 2019 it had roughly 11 months of cash runway. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Cellect Biotechnology's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Cellect Biotechnology didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 7.7%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Cellect Biotechnology due to its lack of significant operating revenues. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
How Hard Would It Be For Cellect Biotechnology To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Cellect Biotechnology shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).
Since it has a market capitalisation of ₪26m, Cellect Biotechnology's ₪24m in cash burn equates to about 94% of its market value. Given just how high that expenditure is, relative to the company's market value, we think there's an elevated risk of funding distress, and we would be very nervous about holding the stock.
Is Cellect Biotechnology's Cash Burn A Worry?
Cellect Biotechnology is not in a great position when it comes to its cash burn situation. While its increasing cash burn wasn't too bad, its cash burn relative to its market cap does leave us rather nervous. Once we consider the metrics mentioned in this article together, we're left with very little confidence in the company's ability to manage its cash burn, and we think it will probably need more money. We think it's very important to consider the cash burn for loss making companies, but other considerations such as the amount the CEO is paid can also enhance your understanding of the business. You can click here to see what Cellect Biotechnology's CEO gets paid each year.
Of course Cellect Biotechnology may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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