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We're Excited To See How Vericel (NASDAQ:VCEL) Uses Its Cash Hoard To Grow

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Vericel (NASDAQ:VCEL) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Vericel

Does Vericel Have A Long Cash Runway?

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 Vericel last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$66m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$17m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 4.0 years from June 2019. Importantly, though, analysts think that Vericel will reach cashflow breakeven before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqCM:VCEL Historical Debt, September 23rd 2019

How Well Is Vericel Growing?

Some investors might find it troubling that Vericel is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 42% in the last year. The good news is that operating revenue increased by 39% in the last year, indicating that the business is gaining some traction. Considering the factors above, the company doesn’t fare badly when it comes to assessing how it is changing over time. 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.

Can Vericel Raise More Cash Easily?

There's no doubt Vericel 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. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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$709m, Vericel's US$17m in cash burn equates to about 2.3% of its market value. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.

So, Should We Worry About Vericel's Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Vericel's cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway 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. 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. We think it's very important to consider the cash burn for loss making companies, but other considerations such as the amount the CEO is paid can also enhance your understanding of the business. You can click here to see what Vericel's CEO gets paid each year.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this freelist of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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.