We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. 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 Passage Bio (NASDAQ:PASG) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
Does Passage Bio Have A Long Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Passage Bio last reported its balance sheet in September 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth US$354m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$145m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 2.4 years from September 2021. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Passage Bio's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Passage Bio 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. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 110%. That sort of spending growth rate can't continue for very long before it causes balance sheet weakness, generally speaking. 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 Hard Would It Be For Passage Bio To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Passage Bio shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Passage Bio's cash burn of US$145m is about 40% of its US$360m market capitalisation. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).
So, Should We Worry About Passage Bio's Cash Burn?
Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Passage Bio's cash runway was relatively promising. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 5 warning signs for Passage Bio (of which 2 are a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.
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)
What are the risks and opportunities for Passage Bio?
Trading at 97.9% below our estimate of its fair value
Makes less than USD$1m in revenue ($0)
Does not have a meaningful market cap ($83M)
Currently unprofitable and not forecast to become profitable over the next 3 years
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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.