Companies Like Prelude Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PRLD) Are In A Position To Invest In Growth

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 14, 2022
NasdaqGS:PRLD
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, 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. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

So, the natural question for Prelude Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PRLD) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for Prelude Therapeutics

How Long Is Prelude Therapeutics' Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. When Prelude Therapeutics last reported its balance sheet in September 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth US$321m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$75m. So it had a cash runway of about 4.3 years from September 2021. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:PRLD Debt to Equity History March 14th 2022

How Is Prelude Therapeutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Prelude Therapeutics didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 86%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. 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 Prelude Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Prelude Therapeutics does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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 and fund 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$413m, Prelude Therapeutics' US$75m in cash burn equates to about 18% of its market value. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.

Is Prelude Therapeutics' Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Prelude Therapeutics' cash runway was relatively promising. Considering all the factors discussed in this article, we're not overly concerned about the company's cash burn, although we do think shareholders should keep an eye on how it develops. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 5 warning signs for Prelude Therapeutics (of which 2 are potentially serious!) you should know about.

Of course Prelude Therapeutics 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.

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