IPOs Running Out of Cash

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Over the past five years, there has been a resurgence in initial public offerings (IPOs) in the United States. While they have not quite reached the excesses that characterized the boom of the Nasdaq in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the pace of new IPO activity has exceeded that of the mid-2000s. Moreover, levels of unprofitable companies having IPOs are matching levels last seen in the tech boom.

Many companies with IPOs in the past few years continue to bleed cash at alarming rates, creating pressures to make operational and financial changes. To identify companies on pace to burn through their current cash holdings within the next three years, 24/7 Wall St. conducted an analysis of 302 public companies. To be considered, companies needed to have had an IPO at some point since 2011, and have over $1 billion in market capitalization. Of the 302 companies examined 71, or about 23%, met that criteria.

The rate at which companies are eating through their cash is calculated by taking the most recently reported cash and equivalents held on a company’s balance sheet divided by an estimate of the company’s cash flow going forward. Where available, the trailing four quarters of reported free cash flows were used to project the net change in the amount of cash held by a company. Otherwise, the maximum number of available reported free cash flow figures was used. Based on their projected rate of cash burn, the companies were then ranked by the number of quarters remaining before they run out of cash.

It should be noted that this list is based on historical rates of cash depletion, and being on this list does not necessarily mean that a given company will run out of cash in the stated timeframe. It means that those that will not fail must either materially adjust their revenues or expenses, or secure additional funding to buy more time. Any number of things can change the course that these companies are on. Some companies on this list have engaged in heavy investment activity that can be tapered off without diminishing their future prospects. Others can tap the capital markets again to shore up their cash holdings. Still others may experience a material improvement in operating income.

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The list below shows companies that have had IPOs since 2011, ranked by the number of quarters of cash they have remaining:

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