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We're Keeping An Eye On Cellectis's (EPA:ALCLS) Cash Burn Rate

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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Cellectis (EPA:ALCLS) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for Cellectis

Does Cellectis Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Cellectis last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$397m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$88m. That means it had a cash runway of about 4.5 years as of June 2019. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

ENXTPA:ALCLS Historical Debt, October 30th 2019
ENXTPA:ALCLS Historical Debt, October 30th 2019

How Well Is Cellectis Growing?

Some investors might find it troubling that Cellectis is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 46% in the last year. The fact that its operating revenue tanked 83% in the last year is even more worrying. 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.

Can Cellectis Raise More Cash Easily?

While Cellectis 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. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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 €425m, Cellectis's US$88m in cash burn equates to about 19% of its market value. 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.

So, Should We Worry About Cellectis's Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Cellectis'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. We think it's very important to consider the cash burn for loss making companies, but other considerations such as the amount the CEO is paid can also enhance your understanding of the business. You can click here to see what Cellectis's CEO gets paid each year.

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)

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.

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. Thank you for reading.