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Are Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc’s (NASDAQ:PIRS) Interest Costs Too High?

Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:PIRS), which has zero-debt on its balance sheet, can maximize capital returns by increasing debt due to its lower cost of capital. However, the trade-off is PIRS will have to follow strict debt obligations which will reduce its financial flexibility. While zero-debt makes the due diligence for potential investors less nerve-racking, it poses a new question: how should they assess the financial strength of such companies? I will take you through a few basic checks to assess the financial health of companies with no debt.

See our latest analysis for Pieris Pharmaceuticals

Does PIRS’s growth rate justify its decision for financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?

There are well-known benefits of including debt in capital structure, primarily a lower cost of capital. However, the trade-off is debtholders’ higher claim on company assets in the event of liquidation and stringent obligations around capital management. PIRS’s absence of debt on its balance sheet may be due to lack of access to cheaper capital, or it may simply believe low cost is not worth sacrificing financial flexibility. However, choosing flexibility over capital returns is logical only if it’s a high-growth company. PIRS’s revenue growth over the past year was an impressively high triple-digit rate, therefore the company’s decision to choose financial flexibility is justified as it may need headroom to borrow in the future to sustain high growth.

NasdaqCM:PIRS Historical Debt October 16th 18

Does PIRS’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?

Since Pieris Pharmaceuticals doesn’t have any debt on its balance sheet, it doesn’t have any solvency issues, which is a term used to describe the company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. But another important aspect of financial health is liquidity: the company’s ability to meet short-term obligations, including payments to suppliers and employees. Looking at PIRS’s most recent US$52m liabilities, the company has been able to meet these obligations given the level of current assets of US$157m, with a current ratio of 2.99x. For Biotechs companies, this ratio is within a sensible range since there is a bit of a cash buffer without leaving too much capital in a low-return environment.

Next Steps:

As a high-growth company, it may be beneficial for PIRS to have some financial flexibility, hence zero-debt. This may mean this is an optimal capital structure for the business, given that it is also meeting its short-term commitment. Moving forward, its financial position may change. Keep in mind I haven’t considered other factors such as how PIRS has been performing in the past. I recommend you continue to research Pieris Pharmaceuticals to get a more holistic view of the stock by looking at:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for PIRS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PIRS’s outlook.
  2. Historical Performance: What has PIRS’s returns been like over the past? Go into more detail in the past track record analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of our analysis for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.