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bluebird bio (NASDAQ:BLUE) Is In A Good Position To Deliver On Growth Plans

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Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. 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 bluebird bio (NASDAQ:BLUE) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.

Check out our latest analysis for bluebird bio

Does bluebird bio Have A Long Cash Runway?

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. As at March 2021, bluebird bio had cash of US$1.0b and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$493m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from March 2021 it had 2.1 years of cash runway. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. 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 Well Is bluebird bio Growing?

We reckon the fact that bluebird bio managed to shrink its cash burn by 28% over the last year is rather encouraging. But this achievement is overshadowed by the brilliant operating revenue growth of 347%. We think it is growing rather well, upon reflection. 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 Hard Would It Be For bluebird bio To Raise More Cash For Growth?

We are certainly impressed with the progress bluebird bio has made over the last year, but it is also worth considering how costly it would be if it wanted to raise more cash to fund faster growth. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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.

bluebird bio has a market capitalisation of US$1.8b and burnt through US$493m last year, which is 27% of the company's market value. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

How Risky Is bluebird bio's Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought bluebird bio's revenue growth was relatively promising. While we're the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about bluebird bio's situation. Taking an in-depth view of risks, we've identified 2 warning signs for bluebird bio that you should be aware of before investing.

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.

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