We Think Benitec Biopharma (NASDAQ:BNTC) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 29, 2021
NasdaqCM:BNTC
Source: Shutterstock

Even when a business is losing money, it's possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Benitec Biopharma (NASDAQ:BNTC) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

Check out our latest analysis for Benitec Biopharma

How Long Is Benitec Biopharma's Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In June 2021, Benitec Biopharma had US$20m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$13m. That means it had a cash runway of around 18 months as of June 2021. 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.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqCM:BNTC Debt to Equity History September 30th 2021

How Is Benitec Biopharma's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Benitec Biopharma doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$59k in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 71%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Benitec Biopharma due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

How Easily Can Benitec Biopharma Raise Cash?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Benitec Biopharma 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. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and 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$29m, Benitec Biopharma's US$13m in cash burn equates to about 46% of its market value. From this perspective, it seems that the company spent a huge amount relative to its market value, and we'd be very wary of a painful capital raising.

Is Benitec Biopharma's Cash Burn A Worry?

On this analysis of Benitec Biopharma's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. Summing up, we think the Benitec Biopharma's cash burn is a risk, based on the factors we mentioned in this article. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Benitec Biopharma you should be aware of, and 2 of them can't be ignored.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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