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 the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So should Arcutis Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:ARQT) 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
Does Arcutis Biotherapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?
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. Arcutis Biotherapeutics has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$445m in cash it held at March 2021. In the last year, its cash burn was US$113m. So it had a cash runway of about 3.9 years from March 2021. Importantly, analysts think that Arcutis Biotherapeutics will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. That means it doesn't have a great deal of breathing room, but it shouldn't really need more cash, considering that cash burn should be continually reducing. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Arcutis Biotherapeutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Arcutis Biotherapeutics 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 99%. 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. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
Can Arcutis Biotherapeutics Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Arcutis Biotherapeutics shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and 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.
Arcutis Biotherapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$1.7b and burnt through US$113m last year, which is 6.7% of the company's market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
Is Arcutis Biotherapeutics' Cash Burn A Worry?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Arcutis Biotherapeutics is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. 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. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. Taking an in-depth view of risks, we've identified 2 warning signs for Arcutis Biotherapeutics that you should be aware of before investing.
Of course Arcutis Biotherapeutics 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.
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. 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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