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Companies Like Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:RARE) Are In A Position To Invest In Growth

Simply Wall St

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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 the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

So should Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:RARE) 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). Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical

Does Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical 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. As at September 2019, Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical had cash of US$527m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$344m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 18 months from September 2019. Notably, analysts forecast that Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 4 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqGS:RARE Historical Debt, December 3rd 2019

How Well Is Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Growing?

Some investors might find it troubling that Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 7.3% in the last year. On a more positive note, the operating revenue improved by 124% over the period, offering an indication that the expenditure may well be worthwhile. If revenue is maintained once spending on growth decreases, that could well pay off! We think it is growing rather well, upon reflection. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Hard Would It Be For Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical seems to be in a fairly good position, in terms of cash burn, but we still think it's worthwhile considering how easily it could raise more money if it wanted to. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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$2.3b, Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical's US$344m in cash burn equates to about 15% of its market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.

How Risky Is Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical's Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical's revenue growth was relatively promising. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. While we're the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical's situation. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

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)

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.

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. Thank you for reading.