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 the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether GH Research (NASDAQ:GHRS) 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'.
How Long Is GH Research's Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. As at June 2021, GH Research had cash of US$293m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$2.0m. That means it had a cash runway of very many years as of June 2021. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is GH Research's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because GH Research isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 544%. We certainly hope for shareholders' sake that the money is well spent, because that kind of expenditure increase always makes us nervous. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
How Easily Can GH Research Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, GH Research 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 and drive growth. By looking at a company's cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year's cash burn.
GH Research's cash burn of US$2.0m is about 0.2% of its US$1.1b market capitalisation. 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 GH Research's Cash Burn Situation?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about GH Research's cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 3 warning signs for GH Research you should be aware of, and 2 of them are a bit unpleasant.
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)
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.
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