Companies Like NGM Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:NGM) Can Afford To Invest In Growth

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, 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 should NGM Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:NGM) shareholders 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. Let’s start with an examination of the business’s cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for NGM Biopharmaceuticals

When Might NGM Biopharmaceuticals Run Out Of Money?

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. As at June 2019, NGM Biopharmaceuticals had cash of US$362m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$22m over the trailing twelve months. 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.

NasdaqGS:NGM Historical Debt, October 4th 2019
NasdaqGS:NGM Historical Debt, October 4th 2019

How Well Is NGM Biopharmaceuticals Growing?

In the last twelve months, NGM Biopharmaceuticals kept its cash burn steady. That’s not too bad, but its revenue growth of 49% was definitely a positive. We think it is growing rather well, upon reflection. 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.

Can NGM Biopharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?

While NGM Biopharmaceuticals seems to be in a decent position, we reckon it is still worth thinking about how easily it could raise more cash, if that proved desirable. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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.

NGM Biopharmaceuticals’s cash burn of US$22m is about 2.5% of its US$859m 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.

So, Should We Worry About NGM Biopharmaceuticals’s Cash Burn?

It may already be apparent to you that we’re relatively comfortable with the way NGM Biopharmaceuticals is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. On this analysis its cash burn reduction was its weakest feature, but we are not concerned about it. 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. Notably, our data indicates that NGM Biopharmaceuticals insiders have been trading the shares. You can discover if they are buyers or sellers by clicking on this link.

Of course NGM Biopharmaceuticals may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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.