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.
So, the natural question for SELLAS Life Sciences Group (NASDAQ:SLS) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is SELLAS Life Sciences Group's 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. As at March 2022, SELLAS Life Sciences Group had cash of US$14m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$23m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from March 2022 it had roughly 7 months of cash runway. To be frank, this kind of short runway puts us on edge, as it indicates the company must reduce its cash burn significantly, or else raise cash imminently. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is SELLAS Life Sciences Group Growing?
SELLAS Life Sciences Group boosted investment sharply in the last year, with cash burn ramping by 65%. That's pretty alarming given that operating revenue dropped 62% over the last year, though the business is likely attempting a strategic pivot. In light of the above-mentioned, we're pretty wary of the trajectory the company seems to be on. 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 SELLAS Life Sciences Group Raise Cash?
Since SELLAS Life Sciences Group can't yet boast improving growth metrics, the market will likely be considering how it can raise more cash if need be. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).
SELLAS Life Sciences Group has a market capitalisation of US$45m and burnt through US$23m last year, which is 51% of the company's market value. 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 SELLAS Life Sciences Group's Cash Burn?
SELLAS Life Sciences Group is not in a great position when it comes to its cash burn situation. While its increasing cash burn wasn't too bad, its falling revenue does leave us rather nervous. After considering the data discussed in this article, we don't have a lot of confidence that its cash burn rate is prudent, as it seems like it might need more cash soon. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 6 warning signs for SELLAS Life Sciences Group (1 doesn't sit too well with us!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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