While it may not be enough for some shareholders, we think it is good to see the e-Therapeutics plc (LON:ETX) share price up 24% in a single quarter. But will that heal all the wounds inflicted over 5 years of declines? Unlikely. In fact, the share price has tumbled down a mountain to land 88% lower after that period. While the recent increase might be a green shoot, we're certainly hesitant to rejoice. The fundamental business performance will ultimately determine if the turnaround can be sustained.
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.
We don't think e-Therapeutics's revenue of UK£232,000 is enough to establish significant demand. You have to wonder why venture capitalists aren't funding it. As a result, we think it's unlikely shareholders are paying much attention to current revenue, but rather speculating on growth in the years to come. It seems likely some shareholders believe that e-Therapeutics has the funding to invent a new product before too long.
As a general rule, if a company doesn't have much revenue, and it loses money, then it is a high risk investment. There is almost always a chance they will need to raise more capital, and their progress - and share price - will dictate how dilutive that is to current holders. 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. e-Therapeutics has already given some investors a taste of the bitter losses that high risk investing can cause.
e-Therapeutics had cash in excess of all liabilities of UK£4.8m when it last reported (July 2019). That's not too bad but management may have to think about raising capital or taking on debt, unless the company is close to breaking even. We'd venture that shareholders are concerned about the need for more capital, because the share price has dropped 35% per year, over 5 years . The image below shows how e-Therapeutics's balance sheet has changed over time; if you want to see the precise values, simply click on the image. You can see in the image below, how e-Therapeutics's cash levels have changed over time (click to see the values).
In reality it's hard to have much certainty when valuing a business that has neither revenue or profit. Given that situation, would you be concerned if it turned out insiders were relentlessly selling stock? I'd like that just about as much as I like to drink milk and fruit juice mixed together. It costs nothing but a moment of your time to see if we are picking up on any insider selling.
A Different Perspective
e-Therapeutics shareholders are down 25% for the year, but the market itself is up 13%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. However, the loss over the last year isn't as bad as the 35% per annum loss investors have suffered over the last half decade. We'd need to see some sustained improvements in the key metrics before we could muster much enthusiasm. It's always interesting to track share price performance over the longer term. But to understand e-Therapeutics better, we need to consider many other factors. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for e-Therapeutics (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course e-Therapeutics may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on GB exchanges.
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