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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 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 Gritstone bio (NASDAQ:GRTS) shareholders 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Gritstone bio's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In March 2022, Gritstone bio had US$172m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$101m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 20 months from March 2022. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is Gritstone bio Growing?
Gritstone bio actually ramped up its cash burn by a whopping 73% in the last year, which shows it is boosting investment in the business. That's pretty alarming given that operating revenue dropped 72% over the last year, though the business is likely attempting a strategic pivot. Considering these two factors together makes us nervous about the direction the company seems to be heading. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Gritstone bio To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since Gritstone bio can't yet boast improving growth metrics, the market will likely be considering how it can raise more cash if need be. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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 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).
Gritstone bio's cash burn of US$101m is about 61% of its US$165m market capitalisation. That's very high expenditure relative to the company's size, suggesting it is an extremely high risk stock.
How Risky Is Gritstone bio's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Gritstone bio's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its falling revenue has us a bit worried. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we'd be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. On another note, Gritstone bio has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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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.