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Can Helius Medical Technologies (NASDAQ:HSDT) Fund Its Growth Plans?

Simply Wall St

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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should Helius Medical Technologies (NASDAQ:HSDT) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

Check out our latest analysis for Helius Medical Technologies

How Long Is Helius Medical Technologies's 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 December 2019, Helius Medical Technologies had cash of US$5.5m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$21m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 3 months from December 2019. That's a very short cash runway which indicates an imminent need to douse the cash burn or find more funding. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqCM:HSDT Historical Debt, March 15th 2020

How Is Helius Medical Technologies's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In the last year, Helius Medical Technologies did book revenue of US$1.5m, but its revenue from operations was less, at just US$1.5m. We don't think that's enough operating revenue for us to understand too much from revenue growth rates, since the company is growing off a low base. So we'll focus on the cash burn, today. With the cash burn rate up 6.4% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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.

Can Helius Medical Technologies Raise More Cash Easily?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Helius Medical Technologies shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. 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 to 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$14m, Helius Medical Technologies's US$21m in cash burn equates to about 148% of its market value. That suggests the company may have some funding difficulties, and we'd be very wary of the stock.

So, Should We Worry About Helius Medical Technologies's Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're rather concerned about Helius Medical Technologies's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests it isn't in a good position to keep funding growth. While not as bad as its cash burn relative to its market cap, its increasing cash burn is also a concern, and considering everything mentioned above, we're struggling to find much to be optimistic about. Its cash burn situation feels about as comfortable as sitting next to the lavatory on a long haul flight. The need for more cash seems just around the corner, and any dilution is likely to be rather severe. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 7 warning signs for Helius Medical Technologies (2 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.