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We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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 should Merus (NASDAQ:MRUS) shareholders be worried about its 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.
When Might Merus Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at September 2021, Merus had cash of US$310m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$53m. That means it had a cash runway of about 5.8 years as of September 2021. Importantly, though, analysts think that Merus will reach cashflow breakeven before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Well Is Merus Growing?
It was fairly positive to see that Merus reduced its cash burn by 30% during the last year. Having said that, the revenue growth of 51% was considerably more inspiring. It seems to be growing nicely. 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 Merus Raise More Cash Easily?
There's no doubt Merus seems to be in a fairly good position, when it comes to managing its cash burn, but even if it's only hypothetical, it's always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund growth. 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.
Merus' cash burn of US$53m is about 4.3% of its US$1.2b market capitalisation. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
Is Merus' Cash Burn A Worry?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Merus is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its revenue growth stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. And even though its cash burn reduction wasn't quite as impressive, it was still a positive. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. Taking all the factors in this report into account, we're not at all worried about its cash burn, as the business appears well capitalized to spend as needs be. Its important for readers to be cognizant of the risks that can affect the company's operations, and we've picked out 3 warning signs for Merus that investors should know when investing in the stock.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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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.