There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. 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 BriaCell Therapeutics (TSE:BCT) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is BriaCell Therapeutics' Cash Runway?
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 January 2022, BriaCell Therapeutics had US$48m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$12m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 4.0 years from January 2022. Notably, however, analysts think that BriaCell Therapeutics will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is BriaCell Therapeutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
BriaCell Therapeutics didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Remarkably, it actually increased its cash burn by 2,170% in the last year. That kind of sharp increase in spending may pay off, but is generally considered quite risky. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For BriaCell Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While BriaCell Therapeutics 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. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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$91m, BriaCell Therapeutics' US$12m in cash burn equates to about 13% of its market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.
How Risky Is BriaCell Therapeutics' Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of BriaCell Therapeutics' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don't think they should be worried. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 6 warning signs for BriaCell Therapeutics you should be aware of, and 3 of them make us uncomfortable.
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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.