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Is Cellectar Biosciences (NASDAQ:CLRB) 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 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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should Cellectar Biosciences (NASDAQ:CLRB) 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). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

View our latest analysis for Cellectar Biosciences

When Might Cellectar Biosciences Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Cellectar Biosciences last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$17m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$12m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 17 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:CLRB Historical Debt, October 19th 2019

How Is Cellectar Biosciences's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Cellectar Biosciences 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. With the cash burn rate up 4.1% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

Can Cellectar Biosciences Raise More Cash Easily?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Cellectar Biosciences shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$15m, Cellectar Biosciences's US$12m in cash burn equates to about 78% of its market value. That's very high expenditure relative to the company's size, suggesting it is an extremely high risk stock.

How Risky Is Cellectar Biosciences's Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Cellectar Biosciences's cash runway was relatively promising. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we'd be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. 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 Cellectar Biosciences's CEO gets paid each year.

If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.

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.