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We Think Chimerix (NASDAQ:CMRX) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

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. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Chimerix (NASDAQ:CMRX) 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'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

Check out our latest analysis for Chimerix

When Might Chimerix Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at December 2023, Chimerix had cash of US$183m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$69m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.6 years as of December 2023. Notably, analysts forecast that Chimerix 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
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Chimerix's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Chimerix has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$324k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. With the cash burn rate up 47% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

How Easily Can Chimerix Raise Cash?

While Chimerix does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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 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).

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Chimerix's cash burn of US$69m is about 81% of its US$86m market capitalisation. Given just how high that expenditure is, relative to the company's market value, we think there's an elevated risk of funding distress, and we would be very nervous about holding the stock.

How Risky Is Chimerix's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of Chimerix's 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 3 warning signs for Chimerix (of which 1 is significant!) you should know about.

Of course Chimerix may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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

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.