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Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Milestone Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MIST) shareholders should 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
How Long Is Milestone Pharmaceuticals' 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. In March 2022, Milestone Pharmaceuticals had US$100m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$35m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.9 years as of March 2022. That's decent, giving the company a couple years to develop its business. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Milestone Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Whilst it's great to see that Milestone Pharmaceuticals has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$15m, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Even though it doesn't get us excited, the 23% reduction in cash burn year on year does suggest the company can continue operating for quite some time. 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 Milestone Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Milestone Pharmaceuticals to raise more cash in the future. 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$167m, Milestone Pharmaceuticals' US$35m in cash burn equates to about 21% of its market value. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.
How Risky Is Milestone Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Milestone Pharmaceuticals 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 its cash burn relative to its market cap wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. 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. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 2 warning signs for Milestone Pharmaceuticals that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
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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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.