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The Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MACK) Share Price Is Down 92% So Some Shareholders Are Rather Upset

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It is a pleasure to report that the Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:MACK) is up 58% in the last quarter. But the last three years have seen a terrible decline. To wit, the share price sky-dived 92% in that time. Arguably, the recent bounce is to be expected after such a bad drop. Only time will tell if the company can sustain the turnaround.

We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.

See our latest analysis for Merrimack Pharmaceuticals

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals hasn't yet reported any revenue yet, so it's as much a business idea as an actual business. You have to wonder why venture capitalists aren't funding it. As a result, we think it's unlikely shareholders are paying much attention to current revenue, but rather speculating on growth in the years to come. It seems likely some shareholders believe that Merrimack Pharmaceuticals has the funding to invent a new product before too long.

As a general rule, if a company doesn't have much revenue, and it loses money, then it is a high risk investment. You should be aware that there is always a chance that this sort of company will need to issue more shares to raise money to continue pursuing its business plan. While some companies like this go on to deliver on their plan, making good money for shareholders, many end in painful losses and eventual de-listing. It certainly is a dangerous place to invest, as Merrimack Pharmaceuticals investors might realise.

When it reported in December 2018 Merrimack Pharmaceuticals had minimal net cash consider its expenditure: just US$42m to be specific. So if it has not already moved to replenish reserves, we think the near-term chances of a capital raising event are pretty high. With that in mind, you can understand why the share price dropped 56% per year, over 3 years. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Merrimack Pharmaceuticals's cash and debt levels have changed over time.

NasdaqGM:MACK Historical Debt, April 5th 2019
NasdaqGM:MACK Historical Debt, April 5th 2019

It can be extremely risky to invest in a company that doesn't even have revenue. There's no way to know its value easily. Would it bother you if insiders were selling the stock? It would bother me, that's for sure. It only takes a moment for you to check whether we have identified any insider sales recently.

What about the Total Shareholder Return (TSR)?

We've already covered Merrimack Pharmaceuticals's share price action, but we should also mention its total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. We note that Merrimack Pharmaceuticals's TSR, at -88% is higher than its share price return of -92%. When you consider it hasn't been paying a dividend, this data suggests shareholders have benefitted from a spin-off, or had the opportunity to acquire attractively priced shares in a discounted capital raising.

A Different Perspective

Investors in Merrimack Pharmaceuticals had a tough year, with a total loss of 13%, against a market gain of about 11%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. However, the loss over the last year isn't as bad as the 26% per annum loss investors have suffered over the last half decade. We'd need to see some sustained improvements in the key metrics before we could muster much enthusiasm. You might want to assess this data-rich visualization of its earnings, revenue and cash flow.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

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.