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We Think Concert Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CNCE) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

Simply Wall St

Even when a business is losing money, it's possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. 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 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 Concert Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CNCE) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

Check out our latest analysis for Concert Pharmaceuticals

When Might Concert Pharmaceuticals Run Out Of Money?

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. In September 2019, Concert Pharmaceuticals had US$127m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$50m. So it had a cash runway of about 2.5 years from September 2019. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

NasdaqGM:CNCE Historical Debt, December 16th 2019

How Well Is Concert Pharmaceuticals Growing?

At first glance it's a bit worrying to see that Concert Pharmaceuticals actually boosted its cash burn by 21%, year on year. It's even worse to see operating revenue down 90% in the same period. In light of the above-mentioned, we're pretty wary of the trajectory the company seems to be on. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Hard Would It Be For Concert Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Concert Pharmaceuticals seems to be in a fairly good position, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. 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 to 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).

Concert Pharmaceuticals has a market capitalisation of US$215m and burnt through US$50m last year, which is 23% of the company's 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.

So, Should We Worry About Concert Pharmaceuticals's Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Concert Pharmaceuticals's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its falling revenue has us a bit worried. Even though we don't think it has a problem with its cash burn, the analysis we've done in this article does suggest that shareholders should give some careful thought to the potential cost of raising more money in the future. 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: Concert Pharmaceuticals insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.