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We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SPPI) 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When Spectrum Pharmaceuticals last reported its balance sheet in March 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth US$163m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$127m. That means it had a cash runway of around 15 months as of March 2021. 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. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its 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. With cash burn dropping by 8.0% it seems management feel the company is spending enough to advance its business plans at an appropriate pace. 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 Spectrum Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Spectrum Pharmaceuticals to raise more cash in the future. 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 and 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$542m, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' US$127m in cash burn equates to about 23% of its market value. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.
How Risky Is Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Spectrum Pharmaceuticals that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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