We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for Idera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IDRA) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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.
How Long Is Idera Pharmaceuticals' 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. Idera Pharmaceuticals has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$38m in cash it held at December 2020. In the last year, its cash burn was US$34m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 13 months from December 2020. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.NasdaqCM:IDRA Debt to Equity History April 21st 2021
How Is Idera Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Idera Pharmaceuticals didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Even though it doesn't get us excited, the 24% reduction in cash burn year on year does suggest the company can continue operating for quite some time. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
How Hard Would It Be For Idera Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Idera Pharmaceuticals is showing a solid reduction in its cash burn, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Idera Pharmaceuticals' cash burn of US$34m is about 78% of its US$43m market capitalisation. That's very high expenditure relative to the company's size, suggesting it is an extremely high risk stock.
Is Idera Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Idera Pharmaceuticals' cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap 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, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 6 warning signs for Idera Pharmaceuticals (2 are concerning!) 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.
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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