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

Simply Wall St

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 Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA) 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Intellia Therapeutics

When Might Intellia Therapeutics Run Out Of Money?

You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. As at September 2019, Intellia Therapeutics had cash of US$286m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$89m. So it had a cash runway of about 3.2 years from September 2019. There's no doubt that this is a reassuringly long runway. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

NasdaqGM:NTLA Historical Debt, February 12th 2020

How Well Is Intellia Therapeutics Growing?

At first glance it's a bit worrying to see that Intellia Therapeutics actually boosted its cash burn by 9.5%, year on year. The good news is that operating revenue increased by 37% in the last year, indicating that the business is gaining some traction. 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 Hard Would It Be For Intellia Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

There's no doubt Intellia Therapeutics seems to be in a fairly good position, when it comes to managing its cash burn, but even if it's only hypothetical, it's always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund 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. 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).

Intellia Therapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$736m and burnt through US$89m last year, which is 12% of the company's 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.

Is Intellia Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Intellia Therapeutics's cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. 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. Notably, our data indicates that Intellia Therapeutics insiders have been trading the shares. You can discover if they are buyers or sellers by clicking on this link.

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.