We Think Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:KNSA) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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?

So, the natural question for Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:KNSA) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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. First, we’ll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

See our latest analysis for Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals

When Might Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals Run Out Of Money?

You can calculate a company’s cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. In June 2019, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals had US$287m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$159m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from June 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. However, if we extrapolate the company’s recent cash burn trend, then it would have a longer cash run way. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqGS:KNSA Historical Debt, September 23rd 2019
NasdaqGS:KNSA Historical Debt, September 23rd 2019

How Is Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals isn’t currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. So while we can’t look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 135%. 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 Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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.

Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals’s cash burn of US$159m is about 31% of its US$506m market capitalisation. That’s fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year’s operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

So, Should We Worry About Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals’s Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals’s cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. 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. 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 Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals’s CEO gets paid each year.

Of course Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals 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.

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.