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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So, the natural question for Arbutus Biopharma (NASDAQ:ABUS) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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.
When Might Arbutus Biopharma Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Arbutus Biopharma last reported its balance sheet in March 2022, it had zero debt and cash worth US$165m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$30m. That means it had a cash runway of about 5.5 years as of March 2022. 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 Arbutus Biopharma Growing?
It was fairly positive to see that Arbutus Biopharma reduced its cash burn by 45% during the last year. But it was the operating revenue growth of 185% that really shone. 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 Arbutus Biopharma To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Arbutus Biopharma seems to be in a decent position, we reckon it is still worth thinking about how easily it could raise more cash, if that proved desirable. 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 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$402m, Arbutus Biopharma's US$30m in cash burn equates to about 7.4% of its market value. 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 Arbutus Biopharma's Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Arbutus Biopharma is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its revenue growth stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. And even its cash burn reduction was very encouraging. 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. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 3 warning signs for Arbutus Biopharma you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.
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)
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.