We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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 history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Lyra Therapeutics (NASDAQ:LYRA) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
See our latest analysis for Lyra Therapeutics
How Long Is Lyra Therapeutics' 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 September 2022, Lyra Therapeutics had cash of US$110m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$44m. Therefore, from September 2022 it had 2.5 years of cash runway. Notably, analysts forecast that Lyra Therapeutics will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 5 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Lyra Therapeutics' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, Lyra Therapeutics doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$1.6m in the last twelve months. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 84%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. 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 Easily Can Lyra Therapeutics Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Lyra Therapeutics shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).
Lyra Therapeutics' cash burn of US$44m is about 51% of its US$86m market capitalisation. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).
How Risky Is Lyra Therapeutics' Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Lyra Therapeutics' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 4 warning signs for Lyra Therapeutics (of which 1 shouldn't be ignored!) you should know about.
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.
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