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There’s no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Biocept (NASDAQ:BIOC) 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Biocept

When Might Biocept 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. Biocept has such a small amount of debt that we’ll set it aside, and focus on the US$24m in cash it held at June 2020. In the last year, its cash burn was US$24m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 12 months from June 2020. While that cash runway isn’t too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

debt-equity-history-analysis

How Well Is Biocept Growing?

At first glance it’s a bit worrying to see that Biocept actually boosted its cash burn by 3.2%, year on year. The silver lining is that revenue was up 48%, showing the business is growing at the top line. We think it is growing rather well, upon reflection. 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.

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

While Biocept seems to be in a fairly good position, it’s still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. 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. 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.

Biocept has a market capitalisation of US$57m and burnt through US$24m last year, which is 42% of the company’s market value. From this perspective, it seems that the company spent a huge amount relative to its market value, and we’d be very wary of a painful capital raising.

Is Biocept’s Cash Burn A Worry?

On this analysis of Biocept’s cash burn, we think its revenue growth was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. 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 Biocept (of which 1 doesn’t sit too well with us!) 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.

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