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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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for ChromaDex (NASDAQ:CDXC) 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
Does ChromaDex Have A Long Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. In September 2021, ChromaDex had US$33m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was US$20m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 20 months from September 2021. Notably, however, analysts think that ChromaDex will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Well Is ChromaDex Growing?
ChromaDex actually ramped up its cash burn by a whopping 68% in the last year, which shows it is boosting investment in the business. While operating revenue was up over the same period, the 14% gain gives us scant comfort. In light of the data above, we're fairly sanguine about the business growth trajectory. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For ChromaDex To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it seems like ChromaDex is developing its business nicely, we still like to consider how easily it could raise more money to accelerate growth. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$189m, ChromaDex's US$20m in cash burn equates to about 10% of its market value. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.
How Risky Is ChromaDex's Cash Burn Situation?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about ChromaDex's cash burn. For example, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests that the company is on a good path. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. There's no doubt that shareholders can take a lot of heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven before too long. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. Taking an in-depth view of risks, we've identified 2 warning signs for ChromaDex that you should be aware of before investing.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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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.