We’re Not Worried About Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’s (NASDAQ:MDGL) Cash Burn

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So, the natural question for Madrigal Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MDGL) 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. Let’s start with an examination of the business’s cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for Madrigal Pharmaceuticals

How Long Is Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’s Cash Runway?

A company’s cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. In June 2019, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals had US$466m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was US$30m. So it had a very long cash runway of many years from June 2019. While this is only one measure of its cash burn situation, it certainly gives us the impression that holders have nothing to worry about. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqCM:MDGL Historical Debt, September 20th 2019
NasdaqCM:MDGL Historical Debt, September 20th 2019

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

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals didn’t record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it’s an early stage company still developing its 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 19%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company’s true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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 Easily Can Madrigal Pharmaceuticals Raise Cash?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.5b, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’s US$30m in cash burn equates to about 1.9% of its market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year’s growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.

How Risky Is Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’s Cash Burn Situation?

As you can probably tell by now, we’re not too worried about Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’s cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn’t great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we’re not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. While it’s important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that Madrigal Pharmaceuticals insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.

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.