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Can Cyclerion Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CYCN) Afford To Invest In Growth?

Simply Wall St

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Cyclerion Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CYCN) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

See our latest analysis for Cyclerion Therapeutics

Does Cyclerion Therapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at September 2019, Cyclerion Therapeutics had cash of US$117m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$112m. That means it had a cash runway of around 13 months as of September 2019. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqGS:CYCN Historical Debt, December 24th 2019

How Is Cyclerion Therapeutics's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Although Cyclerion Therapeutics had revenue of US$3.0m in the last twelve months, its operating revenue was only US$3.0m in that time period. We don't think that's enough operating revenue for us to understand too much from revenue growth rates, since the company is growing off a low base. So we'll focus on the cash burn, today. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 9.3%, 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. 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.

How Easily Can Cyclerion Therapeutics Raise Cash?

While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, Cyclerion Therapeutics shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. 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 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.

Cyclerion Therapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$64m and burnt through US$112m last year, which is 175% of the company's 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 Cyclerion Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?

On this analysis of Cyclerion Therapeutics's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. 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. While it's important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that Cyclerion Therapeutics insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.

Of course Cyclerion Therapeutics 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 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.