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We're Hopeful That Aprea Therapeutics (NASDAQ:APRE) Will Use Its Cash Wisely

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 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. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

So should Aprea Therapeutics (NASDAQ:APRE) shareholders 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). Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

Check out our latest analysis for Aprea Therapeutics

When Might Aprea Therapeutics Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at September 2019, Aprea Therapeutics had cash of US$52m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$20m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 2.6 years from September 2019. Importantly, analysts think that Aprea Therapeutics will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqGS:APRE Historical Debt, January 3rd 2020

How Is Aprea Therapeutics's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Aprea Therapeutics isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. With the cash burn rate up 34% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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 Aprea Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Aprea Therapeutics does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.

Aprea Therapeutics's cash burn of US$20m is about 2.1% of its US$951m market capitalisation. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.

So, Should We Worry About Aprea Therapeutics's Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Aprea Therapeutics's cash burn. For example, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests that the company is on a good path. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. 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. Notably, our data indicates that Aprea Therapeutics insiders have been trading the shares. You can discover if they are buyers or sellers by clicking on this link.

Of course Aprea 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.

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.