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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 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 Marinus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MRNS) 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). Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.
When Might Marinus Pharmaceuticals Run Out Of Money?
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, Marinus Pharmaceuticals had US$52m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$37m. Therefore, from June 2019 it had roughly 17 months of cash runway. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Marinus Pharmaceuticals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Marinus Pharmaceuticals isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 86%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. 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.
Can Marinus Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?
While Marinus 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. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive growth. By looking at a company's cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year's cash burn.
Marinus Pharmaceuticals has a market capitalisation of US$72m and burnt through US$37m last year, which is 51% of the company's market value. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).
So, Should We Worry About Marinus Pharmaceuticals's Cash Burn?
On this analysis of Marinus 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. 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: Marinus Pharmaceuticals insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.
Of course Marinus Pharmaceuticals may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.