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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, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (TSE:AUP) stock is up 145% in the last year, providing strong gains for shareholders. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
Given its strong share price performance, we think it's worthwhile for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals 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'.
When Might Aurinia Pharmaceuticals 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. Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$286m in cash it held at March 2020. In the last year, its cash burn was US$73m. So it had a cash runway of about 3.9 years from March 2020. Importantly, though, analysts think that Aurinia Pharmaceuticals will reach cashflow breakeven before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$318k in the last twelve months. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 45%, 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 Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.6b, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' US$73m in cash burn equates to about 4.5% 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 Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals you should be aware of, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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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