Will Relay Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RLAY) Spend Its Cash Wisely?

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 Relay Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RLAY) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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.

View our latest analysis for Relay Therapeutics

When Might Relay Therapeutics Run Out Of Money?

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. As at September 2022, Relay Therapeutics had cash of US$1.1b and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$220m. So it had a cash runway of about 4.8 years from September 2022. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Well Is Relay Therapeutics Growing?

It was quite stunning to see that Relay Therapeutics increased its cash burn by 203% over the last year. If that's not bad enough, it actually saw operating revenue decrease by a whopping 98% over the last year, suggesting the company is going through some sort of dangerous transition. In light of the above-mentioned, we're pretty wary of the trajectory the company seems to be on. 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 Easily Can Relay Therapeutics Raise Cash?

Relay Therapeutics seems to be in a fairly good position, in terms of cash burn, but we still think it's worthwhile considering how easily it could raise more money if it wanted to. 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.

Relay Therapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$2.3b and burnt through US$220m last year, which is 9.7% of the company's market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About Relay Therapeutics' Cash Burn?

Even though its falling revenue makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Relay Therapeutics' cash runway was relatively promising. Even though we don't think it has a problem with its cash burn, the analysis we've done in this article does suggest that shareholders should give some careful thought to the potential cost of raising more money in the future. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 6 warning signs for Relay Therapeutics you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here