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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So should SpringWorks Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SWTX) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.
Does SpringWorks Therapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When SpringWorks Therapeutics last reported its balance sheet in September 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$344m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$36m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 9.6 years from September 2019. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is SpringWorks Therapeutics's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because SpringWorks Therapeutics isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. The skyrocketing cash burn up 177% year on year certainly tests our nerves. That sort of ramp in expenditure is no doubt intended to generate worthwhile long term returns. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. 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 SpringWorks Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, SpringWorks Therapeutics shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.2b, SpringWorks Therapeutics's US$36m in cash burn equates to about 3.0% of its market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.
Is SpringWorks Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about SpringWorks Therapeutics's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. For us, it's always important to consider risks around cash burn rates. But investors should look at a whole range of factors when researching a new stock. For example, it could be interesting to see how much the SpringWorks Therapeutics CEO receives in total remuneration.
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)
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