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Here's Why We're Not At All Concerned With Seattle Genetics's (NASDAQ:SGEN) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. 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 Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ:SGEN) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; 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 Seattle Genetics

How Long Is Seattle Genetics's 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. When Seattle Genetics last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$376m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$172m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.2 years as of June 2019. Importantly, though, analysts think that Seattle Genetics will reach cashflow breakeven before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqGS:SGEN Historical Debt, October 21st 2019

How Well Is Seattle Genetics Growing?

On balance, we think it's mildly positive that Seattle Genetics trimmed its cash burn by 4.3% over the last twelve months. On top of that, operating revenue was up 32%, making for a heartening combination Considering the factors above, the company doesn’t fare badly when it comes to assessing how it is changing over 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.

How Easily Can Seattle Genetics Raise Cash?

Seattle Genetics 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. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).

Seattle Genetics has a market capitalisation of US$15b and burnt through US$172m last year, which is 1.2% of the company's market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.

How Risky Is Seattle Genetics's Cash Burn Situation?

It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Seattle Genetics is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. Its weak point is its cash burn reduction, but even that wasn't too bad! It's clearly very positive to see that analysts are forecasting the company will break even fairly soon Taking all the factors in this report into account, we're not at all worried about its cash burn, as the business appears well capitalized to spend as needs be. Notably, our data indicates that Seattle Genetics insiders have been trading the shares. You can discover if they are buyers or sellers by clicking on this link.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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.