Here’s Why We’re Watching Pieris Pharmaceuticals’s (NASDAQ:PIRS) Cash Burn Situation

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

So, the natural question for Pieris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PIRS) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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’ cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Pieris Pharmaceuticals

How Long Is Pieris Pharmaceuticals’s 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. In March 2020, Pieris Pharmaceuticals had US$87m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$57m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 18 months from March 2020. While that cash runway isn’t too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqCM:PIRS Debt to Equity History July 9th 2020
NasdaqCM:PIRS Debt to Equity History July 9th 2020

How Well Is Pieris Pharmaceuticals Growing?

At first glance it’s a bit worrying to see that Pieris Pharmaceuticals actually boosted its cash burn by 16%, year on year. Having said that, it’s revenue is up a very solid 52% in the last year, so there’s plenty of reason to believe in the growth story. The company needs to keep up that growth, if it is to really please shareholders. It seems to be growing nicely. 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 Pieris Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Even though it seems like Pieris Pharmaceuticals is developing its business nicely, we still like to consider how easily it could raise more money to accelerate 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.

Pieris Pharmaceuticals’s cash burn of US$57m is about 35% of its US$160m market capitalisation. 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 Pieris Pharmaceuticals’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 Pieris Pharmaceuticals’s revenue growth was relatively promising. We don’t think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. On another note, Pieris Pharmaceuticals has 4 warning signs (and 1 which doesn’t sit too well with us) we think you should know about.

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.

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