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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for Aprea Therapeutics (NASDAQ:APRE) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Aprea Therapeutics's Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When Aprea Therapeutics last reported its balance sheet in March 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$123m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$30m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 4.1 years from March 2020. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Aprea Therapeutics's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Aprea Therapeutics didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 96%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. 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 Aprea Therapeutics To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Aprea Therapeutics shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. 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. 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).
Aprea Therapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$817m and burnt through US$30m last year, which is 3.7% 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.
Is Aprea Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Aprea Therapeutics is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Its important for readers to be cognizant of the risks that can affect the company's operations, and we've picked out 2 warning signs for Aprea Therapeutics that investors should know when investing in the stock.
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)
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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