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Here's Why We're Not At All Concerned With Akcea Therapeutics's (NASDAQ:AKCA) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 Akcea Therapeutics (NASDAQ:AKCA) shareholders should be worried about its 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.

See our latest analysis for Akcea Therapeutics

When Might Akcea Therapeutics 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. When Akcea Therapeutics last reported its balance sheet in September 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$253m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$56m. So it had a cash runway of about 4.5 years from September 2019. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NasdaqGS:AKCA Historical Debt, November 18th 2019

How Well Is Akcea Therapeutics Growing?

Akcea Therapeutics managed to reduce its cash burn by 65% over the last twelve months, which suggests it's on the right flight path. And it is also great to see that the revenue is up a stonking 190% in the same time period. Considering these factors, we're fairly impressed by its growth trajectory. 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 Easily Can Akcea Therapeutics Raise Cash?

There's no doubt Akcea Therapeutics seems to be in a fairly good position, when it comes to managing its cash burn, but even if it's only hypothetical, it's always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund growth. 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$1.8b, Akcea Therapeutics's US$56m in cash burn equates to about 3.1% 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.

Is Akcea Therapeutics's Cash Burn A Worry?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Akcea Therapeutics's cash burn. For example, we think its revenue growth suggests that the company is on a good path. And even its cash burn reduction was very encouraging. After considering a range of factors in this article, we're pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Akcea Therapeutics insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course Akcea Therapeutics 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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.