We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Mustang Bio (NASDAQ:MBIO) 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. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
When Might Mustang Bio Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In March 2021, Mustang Bio had US$129m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$47m. Therefore, from March 2021 it had 2.7 years of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Mustang Bio will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Mustang Bio's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Mustang Bio didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 15%, 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. 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 Hard Would It Be For Mustang Bio To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Mustang Bio shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive growth. We can compare a company's cash burn to its market capitalisation to get a sense for how many new shares a company would have to issue to fund one year's operations.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$330m, Mustang Bio's US$47m in cash burn equates to about 14% 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 Mustang Bio's Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Mustang Bio is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. Considering all the factors discussed in this article, we're not overly concerned about the company's cash burn, although we do think shareholders should keep an eye on how it develops. On another note, Mustang Bio has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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