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We're Keeping An Eye On BioXcel Therapeutics's (NASDAQ:BTAI) Cash Burn Rate

Simply Wall St

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. Indeed, BioXcel Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BTAI) stock is up 216% in the last year, providing strong gains for shareholders. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

So notwithstanding the buoyant share price, we think it's well worth asking whether BioXcel Therapeutics's cash burn is too risky 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. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for BioXcel Therapeutics

Does BioXcel Therapeutics Have A Long 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. As at September 2019, BioXcel Therapeutics had cash of US$40m and such minimal debt that we can ignore it for the purposes of this analysis. Importantly, its cash burn was US$25m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from September 2019 it had roughly 20 months of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that BioXcel Therapeutics will reach cashflow breakeven in 3 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqCM:BTAI Historical Debt, January 25th 2020

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

BioXcel Therapeutics didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 137%. That sort of spending growth rate can't continue for very long before it causes balance sheet weakness, generally speaking. 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 BioXcel Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its cash burn trajectory, BioXcel Therapeutics shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$305m, BioXcel Therapeutics's US$25m in cash burn equates to about 8.1% of its market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.

Is BioXcel Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought BioXcel Therapeutics's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. 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: BioXcel Therapeutics 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.