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Here's Why We're Not Too Worried About Mirati Therapeutics's (NASDAQ:MRTX) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. 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 Mirati Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MRTX) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Mirati Therapeutics

Does Mirati Therapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. When Mirati Therapeutics last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$489m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$114m. That means it had a cash runway of about 4.3 years as of June 2019. Notably, however, analysts think that Mirati Therapeutics will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqGS:MRTX Historical Debt, September 28th 2019

How Well Is Mirati Therapeutics Growing?

Mirati Therapeutics actually ramped up its cash burn by a whopping 97% in the last year, which shows it is boosting investment in the business. While that's concerning on it's own, the fact that operating revenue was actually down 44% over the same period makes us positively tremulous. In light of the above-mentioned, we're pretty wary of the trajectory the company seems to be on. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

Can Mirati Therapeutics Raise More Cash Easily?

While Mirati Therapeutics seems to be in a fairly good position, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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.

Mirati Therapeutics's cash burn of US$114m is about 3.4% of its US$3.3b market capitalisation. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About Mirati Therapeutics's Cash Burn?

Even though its falling revenue makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Mirati Therapeutics's cash runway was relatively promising. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company 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. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Mirati Therapeutics insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, 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.