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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. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Vallon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VLON) shareholders should be worried about its 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.
Does Vallon Pharmaceuticals 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. As at June 2021, Vallon Pharmaceuticals had cash of US$10m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$7.3m. That means it had a cash runway of around 17 months as of June 2021. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Vallon Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Vallon Pharmaceuticals didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its 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. The skyrocketing cash burn up 114% year on year certainly tests our nerves. It's fair to say that sort of rate of increase cannot be maintained for very long, without putting pressure on the balance sheet. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. 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 Vallon Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Vallon Pharmaceuticals does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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 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).
Vallon Pharmaceuticals' cash burn of US$7.3m is about 22% of its US$34m market capitalisation. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
Is Vallon Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Vallon Pharmaceuticals' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 4 warning signs for Vallon Pharmaceuticals (2 are a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course Vallon Pharmaceuticals 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.
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.
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