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We’re Not Worried About Protagonist Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ:PTGX) Cash Burn

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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Protagonist Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PTGX) 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Protagonist Therapeutics

Does Protagonist Therapeutics Have A Long 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. When Protagonist Therapeutics last reported its September 2023 balance sheet in November 2023, it had zero debt and cash worth US$321m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$119m. So it had a cash runway of about 2.7 years from September 2023. Notably, however, analysts think that Protagonist Therapeutics will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis

debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Protagonist Therapeutics’ Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Protagonist Therapeutics didn’t record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it’s an early stage company still developing its business. So while we can’t look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 14%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company’s true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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.

Can Protagonist Therapeutics Raise More Cash Easily?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Protagonist 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).

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.7b, Protagonist Therapeutics’ US$119m in cash burn equates to about 7.0% of its market value. That’s a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About Protagonist Therapeutics’ Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we’re not too worried about Protagonist Therapeutics’ cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While its increasing cash burn wasn’t great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. There’s no doubt that shareholders can take a lot of heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven before too long. Taking all the factors in this report into account, we’re not at all worried about its cash burn, as the business appears well capitalized to spend as needs be. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 2 warning signs for Protagonist Therapeutics (of which 1 is concerning!) you should know about.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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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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