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Introducing Tocagen (NASDAQ:TOCA), The Stock That Tanked 94%

Simply Wall St

Tocagen Inc. (NASDAQ:TOCA) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 25% in the last month. But that is meagre solace when you consider how the price has plummeted over the last year. To wit, the stock has dropped 94% over the last year. It's not uncommon to see a bounce after a drop like that. The bigger issue is whether the company can sustain the momentum in the long term.

We really hope anyone holding through that price crash has a diversified portfolio. Even when you lose money, you don't have to lose the lesson.

View our latest analysis for Tocagen

With just US$36,000 worth of revenue in twelve months, we don't think the market considers Tocagen to have proven its business plan. You have to wonder why venture capitalists aren't funding it. So it seems that the investors focused more on what could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). It seems likely some shareholders believe that Tocagen has the funding to invent a new product before too long.

We think companies that have neither significant revenues nor profits are pretty high risk. There is usually a significant chance that they will need more money for business development, putting them at the mercy of capital markets. So the share price itself impacts the value of the shares (as it determines the cost of capital). While some companies like this go on to deliver on their plan, making good money for shareholders, many end in painful losses and eventual de-listing. Tocagen has already given some investors a taste of the bitter losses that high risk investing can cause.

Tocagen had cash in excess of all liabilities of just US$4.4m when it last reported (September 2019). So if it has not already moved to replenish reserves, we think the near-term chances of a capital raising event are pretty high. With that in mind, you can understand why the share price dropped 94% in the last year . You can see in the image below, how Tocagen's cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values). You can see in the image below, how Tocagen's cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values).

NasdaqGS:TOCA Historical Debt, January 17th 2020
NasdaqGS:TOCA Historical Debt, January 17th 2020

It can be extremely risky to invest in a company that doesn't even have revenue. There's no way to know its value easily. What if insiders are ditching the stock hand over fist? I would feel more nervous about the company if that were so. You can click here to see if there are insiders selling.

A Different Perspective

Given that the market gained 26% in the last year, Tocagen shareholders might be miffed that they lost 94%. While the aim is to do better than that, it's worth recalling that even great long-term investments sometimes underperform for a year or more. With the stock down 4.4% over the last three months, the market doesn't seem to believe that the company has solved all its problems. Basically, most investors should be wary of buying into a poor-performing stock, unless the business itself has clearly improved. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. Take risks, for example - Tocagen has 6 warning signs (and 1 which is concerning) we think you should know about.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.