We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So, the natural question for Ascelia Pharma (STO:ACE) 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. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is Ascelia Pharma's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Ascelia Pharma last reported its balance sheet in December 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth kr184m. Importantly, its cash burn was kr74m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from December 2019 it had 2.5 years of cash runway. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Ascelia Pharma's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Ascelia Pharma isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 288%. With that kind of spending growth its cash runway will shorten quickly, as it simultaneously uses its cash while increasing the burn rate. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. 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 Ascelia Pharma To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Ascelia Pharma shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. 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 to fund growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).
Since it has a market capitalisation of kr472m, Ascelia Pharma's kr74m in cash burn equates to about 16% of its market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.
Is Ascelia Pharma's Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Ascelia Pharma's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. While we're the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Ascelia Pharma's situation. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Ascelia Pharma you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.