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There’s no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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. 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.

Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Pulmatrix (NASDAQ:PULM) 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). First, we’ll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

See our latest analysis for Pulmatrix

Does Pulmatrix Have A Long Cash Runway?

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. As at June 2020, Pulmatrix had cash of US$27m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$13m. So it had a cash runway of about 2.1 years from June 2020. Notably, one analyst forecasts that Pulmatrix will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

debt-equity-history-analysis

Is Pulmatrix’s Revenue Growing?

We’re hesitant to extrapolate on the recent trend to assess its cash burn, because Pulmatrix actually had positive free cash flow last year, so operating revenue growth is probably our best bet to measure, right now. Notably, its strong revenue growth of 94% over the last year is genuinely cause for optimism. 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.

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

There’s no doubt Pulmatrix’s revenue growth is impressive but even if it’s only hypothetical, it’s always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund further growth. 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.

Pulmatrix has a market capitalisation of US$40m and burnt through US$13m last year, which is 32% of the company’s market value. That’s fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year’s operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

So, Should We Worry About Pulmatrix’s Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Pulmatrix’s cash burn, we think its revenue growth was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that at least one analyst is forecasting it will reach breakeven. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we’re not too worried about its rate of cash burn. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 3 warning signs for Pulmatrix (of which 1 can’t be ignored!) you should know about.

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.

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