Even when a business is losing money, it’s possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. 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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So should Unity Biotechnology (NASDAQ:UBX) 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’.
When Might Unity Biotechnology Run Out Of Money?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When Unity Biotechnology last reported its balance sheet in September 2023, it had zero debt and cash worth US$46m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$44m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 13 months from September 2023. That’s not too bad, but it’s fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Unity Biotechnology’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Unity Biotechnology 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. As it happens, the company’s cash burn reduced by 4.5% over the last year, which suggests that management are maintaining a fairly steady rate of business development, albeit with a slight decrease in spending. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Unity Biotechnology To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Unity Biotechnology to raise more cash in the future. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and fund 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.
Unity Biotechnology has a market capitalisation of US$26m and burnt through US$44m last year, which is 165% of the company’s market value. That suggests the company may have some funding difficulties, and we’d be very wary of the stock.
How Risky Is Unity Biotechnology’s Cash Burn Situation?
Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Unity Biotechnology’s cash burn reduction was relatively promising. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we’d be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. Taking a deeper dive, we’ve spotted 6 warning signs for Unity Biotechnology you should be aware of, and 2 of them are potentially serious.
Of course Unity Biotechnology may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.
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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.