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We Think Bellerophon Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BLPH) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

·3-min read

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So should Bellerophon Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BLPH) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Bellerophon Therapeutics

How Long Is Bellerophon Therapeutics' 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. As at September 2021, Bellerophon Therapeutics had cash of US$29m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$25m. That means it had a cash runway of around 14 months as of September 2021. Notably, analysts forecast that Bellerophon Therapeutics will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 2 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

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

How Is Bellerophon Therapeutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Bellerophon Therapeutics isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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 54%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. 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.

Can Bellerophon Therapeutics Raise More Cash Easily?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Bellerophon 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. 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$21m, Bellerophon Therapeutics' US$25m in cash burn equates to about 119% of its market value. That suggests the company may have some funding difficulties, and we'd be very wary of the stock.

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

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Bellerophon Therapeutics' cash runway was relatively promising. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. Summing up, we think the Bellerophon Therapeutics' cash burn is a risk, based on the factors we mentioned in this article. On another note, Bellerophon Therapeutics has 4 warning signs (and 1 which can't be ignored) we think you should know about.

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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.