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. Indeed, CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP) stock is up 127% in the last year, providing strong gains for shareholders. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

Given its strong share price performance, we think it's worthwhile for CRISPR Therapeutics shareholders to consider whether its cash burn is concerning. For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for CRISPR Therapeutics

Does CRISPR Therapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?

You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. In September 2020, CRISPR Therapeutics had US$1.4b in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$167m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 8.2 years as of September 2020. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

Is CRISPR Therapeutics' Revenue Growing?

We're hesitant to extrapolate on the recent trend to assess its cash burn, because CRISPR Therapeutics actually had positive free cash flow last year, so operating revenue growth is probably our best bet to measure, right now. The harsh truth is that operating revenue dropped 64% in the last year, which is quite problematic for a cash burning company. 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 Easily Can CRISPR Therapeutics Raise Cash?

Since its revenue growth is moving in the wrong direction, CRISPR Therapeutics shareholders may wish to think ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.

CRISPR Therapeutics has a market capitalisation of US$11b and burnt through US$167m last year, which is 1.6% of the company's market value. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.

So, Should We Worry About CRISPR Therapeutics' Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about CRISPR 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 we must concede that its falling revenue is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Its important for readers to be cognizant of the risks that can affect the company's operations, and we've picked out 3 warning signs for CRISPR Therapeutics that investors should know when investing in the stock.

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)

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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