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Is Spero Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SPRO) In A Good Position To Deliver On Growth Plans?

·4 min read

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

So, the natural question for Spero Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SPRO) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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 Spero Therapeutics

When Might Spero Therapeutics 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. As at September 2020, Spero Therapeutics had cash of US$127m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$87m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from September 2020 it had roughly 18 months of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Spero Therapeutics will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.


How Well Is Spero Therapeutics Growing?

Spero Therapeutics boosted investment sharply in the last year, with cash burn ramping by 79%. As if that's not bad enough, the operating revenue also dropped by 32%, making us very wary indeed. Taken together, we think these growth metrics are a little worrying. 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 Spero Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Spero Therapeutics revenue is declining and its cash burn is increasing, so many may be considering its need 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. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and 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.

Spero Therapeutics' cash burn of US$87m is about 20% of its US$441m market capitalisation. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.

How Risky Is Spero Therapeutics' Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of Spero Therapeutics' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. Summing up, we think the Spero Therapeutics' cash burn is a risk, based on the factors we mentioned in this article. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Spero Therapeutics that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.

Of course Spero Therapeutics 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.

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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