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Here's Why Rexahn Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REXN) Must Use Its Cash Wisely

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Rexahn Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REXN) shareholders should 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). We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for Rexahn Pharmaceuticals

When Might Rexahn Pharmaceuticals Run Out Of Money?

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, Rexahn Pharmaceuticals had cash of US$14m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$13m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from September 2019 it had roughly 13 months of cash runway. 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:REXN Historical Debt, January 9th 2020

How Is Rexahn Pharmaceuticals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Rexahn Pharmaceuticals didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its 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. Even though it doesn't get us excited, the 27% reduction in cash burn year on year does suggest the company can continue operating for quite some time. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

Can Rexahn Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?

Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Rexahn Pharmaceuticals to raise more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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.

Rexahn Pharmaceuticals's cash burn of US$13m is about 155% of its US$8.5m market capitalisation. 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.

How Risky Is Rexahn Pharmaceuticals'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 Rexahn Pharmaceuticals's cash burn reduction was relatively promising. After looking at that range of measures, we think shareholders should be extremely attentive to how the company is using its cash, as the cash burn makes us uncomfortable. While it's important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that Rexahn Pharmaceuticals insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.

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.

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.