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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 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 Heat Biologics (NASDAQ:HTBX) 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.
When Might Heat Biologics Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Heat Biologics last reported its balance sheet in March 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$26m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$15m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 22 months from March 2020. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is Heat Biologics Growing?
It was fairly positive to see that Heat Biologics reduced its cash burn by 34% during the last year. Unfortunately, however, operating revenue declined by 43% during the period. In light of the data above, we're fairly sanguine about the business growth trajectory. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
Can Heat Biologics Raise More Cash Easily?
Even though it seems like Heat Biologics is developing its business nicely, we still like to consider how easily it could raise more money to accelerate growth. 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. We can compare a company's cash burn to its market capitalisation to get a sense for how many new shares a company would have to issue to fund one year's operations.
Heat Biologics has a market capitalisation of US$50m and burnt through US$15m last year, which is 29% of the company's market value. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
So, Should We Worry About Heat Biologics's Cash Burn?
Even though its falling revenue makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Heat Biologics's cash burn reduction was relatively promising. 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. On another note, Heat Biologics has 6 warning signs (and 2 which are a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
Of course Heat Biologics 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.
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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.