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Did Changing Sentiment Drive NantKwest's (NASDAQ:NK) Share Price Down A Painful 82%?

Simply Wall St

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NantKwest, Inc. (NASDAQ:NK) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 11% in the last month. But only the myopic could ignore the astounding decline over three years. The share price has sunk like a leaky ship, down 82% in that time. So we're relieved for long term holders to see a bit of uplift. But the more important question is whether the underlying business can justify a higher price still.

While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn't as important as health and happiness.

View our latest analysis for NantKwest

We don't think NantKwest's revenue of US$47,000 is enough to establish significant demand. This state of affairs suggests that venture capitalists won't provide funds on attractive terms. So it seems that the investors focused more on what could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). For example, they may be hoping that NantKwest comes up with a great new product, before it runs out of money.

As a general rule, if a company doesn't have much revenue, and it loses money, then it is a high risk investment. You should be aware that there is always a chance that this sort of company will need to issue more shares to raise money to continue pursuing its business plan. While some companies like this go on to deliver on their plan, making good money for shareholders, many end in painful losses and eventual de-listing. It certainly is a dangerous place to invest, as NantKwest investors might realise.

NantKwest had cash in excess of all liabilities of just US$58m when it last reported (March 2019). So if it hasn't remedied the situation already, it will almost certainly have to raise more capital soon. That probably explains why the share price is down 44% per year, over 3 years. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how NantKwest's cash levels have changed over time. You can see in the image below, how NantKwest's cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values).

NasdaqGS:NK Historical Debt, July 11th 2019

It can be extremely risky to invest in a company that doesn't even have revenue. There's no way to know its value easily. Given that situation, would you be concerned if it turned out insiders were relentlessly selling stock? It would bother me, that's for sure. It costs nothing but a moment of your time to see if we are picking up on any insider selling.

A Different Perspective

Over the last year, NantKwest shareholders took a loss of 63%. In contrast the market gained about 7.0%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Shareholders have lost 44% per year over the last three years, so the share price drop has become steeper, over the last year; a potential symptom of as yet unsolved challenges. Although Warren Buffett famously said he likes to 'buy when there is blood on the streets', he also focusses on high quality stocks with solid prospects. Most investors take the time to check the data on insider transactions. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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.