What does CRISPR Therapeutics AG’s (NASDAQ:CRSP) Balance Sheet Tell Us About Its Future?

The direct benefit for CRISPR Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ:CRSP), which sports a zero-debt capital structure, to include debt in its capital structure is the reduced cost of capital. However, the trade-off is CRSP will have to adhere to stricter debt covenants and have less financial flexibility. Zero-debt can alleviate some risk associated with the company meeting debt obligations, but this doesn’t automatically mean CRSP has outstanding financial strength. I will go over a basic overview of the stock’s financial health, which I believe provides a ballpark estimate of their financial health status.

View our latest analysis for CRISPR Therapeutics

Is CRSP right in choosing financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?

Debt funding can be cheaper than issuing new equity due to lower interest cost on debt. But the downside of having debt in a company’s balance sheet is the debtholder’s higher claim on its assets in the case of liquidation, as well as stricter capital management requirements. CRSP’s absence of debt on its balance sheet may be due to lack of access to cheaper capital, or it may simply believe low cost is not worth sacrificing financial flexibility. However, choosing flexibility over capital returns is logical only if it’s a high-growth company. CRSP’s revenue growth over the past year was an impressively high triple-digit rate, therefore the company’s decision to choose financial flexibility is justified as it may need headroom to borrow in the future to sustain high growth.

NasdaqGM:CRSP Historical Debt November 7th 18
NasdaqGM:CRSP Historical Debt November 7th 18

Can CRSP meet its short-term obligations with the cash in hand?

Since CRISPR Therapeutics doesn’t have any debt on its balance sheet, it doesn’t have any solvency issues, which is a term used to describe the company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. However, another measure of financial health is its short-term obligations, which is known as liquidity. These include payments to suppliers, employees and other stakeholders. Looking at CRSP’s most recent US$18m liabilities, it seems that the business has been able to meet these commitments with a current assets level of US$331m, leading to a 17.89x current account ratio. However, anything above 3x may be considered excessive by some investors.

Next Steps:

CRSP is a fast-growing firm, which supports having have zero-debt and financial freedom to continue to ramp up growth. Since there is also no concerns around CRSP’s liquidity needs, this may be its optimal capital structure for the time being. In the future, its financial position may change. I admit this is a fairly basic analysis for CRSP’s financial health. Other important fundamentals need to be considered alongside. You should continue to research CRISPR Therapeutics to get a better picture of the stock by looking at:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CRSP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CRSP’s outlook.
  2. Historical Performance: What has CRSP’s returns been like over the past? Go into more detail in the past track record analysis and take a look at the free visual representations of our analysis for more clarity.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.