There’s no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Rhythm Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:RYTM) shareholders should 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). We’ll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Runway?
A company’s cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Rhythm Pharmaceuticals last reported its balance sheet in June 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$229m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$132m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 21 months from June 2020. Notably, analysts forecast that Rhythm Pharmaceuticals will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 4 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Rhythm Pharmaceuticals isn’t currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. With the cash burn rate up 33% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company’s true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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.
Can Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive growth. By looking at a company’s cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year’s cash burn.
Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ cash burn of US$132m is about 13% of its US$1.0b market capitalisation. As a result, we’d venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.
So, Should We Worry About Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Burn?
On this analysis of Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. While we’re the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Rhythm Pharmaceuticals’ situation. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 2 warning signs for Rhythm Pharmaceuticals that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, 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.