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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. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. 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 Codexis (NASDAQ:CDXS) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
How Long Is Codexis' 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. When Codexis last reported its balance sheet in December 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$150m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$20m. So it had a cash runway of about 7.4 years from December 2020. Importantly, though, analysts think that Codexis will reach cashflow breakeven before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Well Is Codexis Growing?
At first glance it's a bit worrying to see that Codexis actually boosted its cash burn by 24%, year on year. To be fair, given that fact it's hardly inspiring to see that the operating revenue was flat year on year. In light of the data above, we're fairly sanguine about the business growth trajectory. 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 Codexis Raise Cash?
Even though it seems like Codexis is developing its business nicely, we still like to consider how easily it could raise more money to accelerate growth. 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. We can compare a company's cash burn to its market capitalisation to get a sense for how many new shares a company would have to issue to fund one year's operations.
Codexis has a market capitalisation of US$1.3b and burnt through US$20m last year, which is 1.5% of the company's market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
So, Should We Worry About Codexis' Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Codexis' 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. 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. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Codexis that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.
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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