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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.
So, the natural question for ALX Oncology Holdings (NASDAQ:ALXO) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does ALX Oncology Holdings Have A Long Cash Runway?
You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. As at December 2020, ALX Oncology Holdings had cash of US$434m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$38m. That means it had a cash runway of very many years as of December 2020. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is ALX Oncology Holdings Growing?
Notably, ALX Oncology Holdings actually ramped up its cash burn very hard and fast in the last year, by 161%, signifying heavy investment in the business. That's pretty alarming given that operating revenue dropped 75% over the last year, though the business is likely attempting a strategic pivot. In light of the above-mentioned, we're pretty wary of the trajectory the company seems to be on. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For ALX Oncology Holdings To Raise More Cash For Growth?
ALX Oncology Holdings seems to be in a fairly good position, in terms of cash burn, but we still think it's worthwhile considering how easily it could raise more money if it wanted to. 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.
ALX Oncology Holdings' cash burn of US$38m is about 3.8% of its US$1.0b market capitalisation. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
How Risky Is ALX Oncology Holdings' Cash Burn Situation?
Even though its falling revenue makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought ALX Oncology Holdings' cash runway was relatively promising. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 3 warning signs for ALX Oncology Holdings that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
Of course ALX Oncology Holdings 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.
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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