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Here's Why We're Watching Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals's (NASDAQ:CYCC) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

So should Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CYCC) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals

Does Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals 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. In June 2019, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals had US$15m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was US$9.1m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 20 months from June 2019. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqCM:CYCC Historical Debt, October 11th 2019

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

In our view, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$150k in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. With the cash burn rate up 22% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Easily Can Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals Raise Cash?

While Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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).

Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals's cash burn of US$9.1m is about 141% of its US$6.5m 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.

So, Should We Worry About Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals's Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. For us, it's always important to consider risks around cash burn rates. But investors should look at a whole range of factors when researching a new stock. For example, it could be interesting to see how much the Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals CEO receives in total remuneration.

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.