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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, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

So should Checkmate Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CMPI) 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). First, we’ll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

See our latest analysis for Checkmate Pharmaceuticals

How Long Is Checkmate Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Runway?

A company’s cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. In June 2020, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals had US$80m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$28m. So it had a cash runway of about 2.8 years from June 2020. That’s decent, giving the company a couple years to develop its business. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Checkmate Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Checkmate 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 19% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Hard Would It Be For Checkmate Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Checkmate 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. 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.

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals has a market capitalisation of US$231m and burnt through US$28m last year, which is 12% of the company’s market value. Given that situation, it’s fair to say the company wouldn’t have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.

How Risky Is Checkmate Pharmaceuticals’ Cash Burn Situation?

It may already be apparent to you that we’re relatively comfortable with the way Checkmate Pharmaceuticals is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn’t great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don’t think they should be worried. On another note, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals has 3 warning signs (and 1 which is potentially serious) we think you should know about.