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We're Keeping An Eye On Oragenics's (NYSEMKT:OGEN) Cash Burn Rate

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should Oragenics (NYSEMKT:OGEN) 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

See our latest analysis for Oragenics

Does Oragenics Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. Oragenics has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$22m in cash it held at September 2019. In the last year, its cash burn was US$12m. Therefore, from September 2019 it had roughly 22 months of cash runway. 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.

AMEX:OGEN Historical Debt, December 10th 2019

How Is Oragenics's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Oragenics 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. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 61%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. 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 Oragenics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Oragenics 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. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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$26m, Oragenics's US$12m in cash burn equates to about 47% of its market value. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).

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

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Oragenics's cash runway 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. 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 Oragenics's CEO gets paid each year.

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.

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