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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, 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 NLS Pharmaceutics (NASDAQ:NLSP) shareholders should 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
When Might NLS Pharmaceutics Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In June 2021, NLS Pharmaceutics had US$7.1m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$10.0m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 9 months from June 2021. 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 Is NLS Pharmaceutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because NLS Pharmaceutics isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 594%. Given that sharp increase in spending, the company's cash runway will shrink rapidly as it depletes its cash reserves. 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.
How Easily Can NLS Pharmaceutics Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, NLS Pharmaceutics shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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.
NLS Pharmaceutics' cash burn of US$10.0m is about 33% of its US$30m market capitalisation. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
So, Should We Worry About NLS Pharmaceutics' Cash Burn?
NLS Pharmaceutics is not in a great position when it comes to its cash burn situation. While its cash burn relative to its market cap wasn't too bad, its increasing cash burn does leave us rather nervous. Once we consider the metrics mentioned in this article together, we're left with very little confidence in the company's ability to manage its cash burn, and we think it will probably need more money. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 6 warning signs for NLS Pharmaceutics you should be aware of, and 3 of them can't be ignored.
Of course NLS Pharmaceutics 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. 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.
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