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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for AVITA Therapeutics (ASX:AVH) 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). Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
Does AVITA Therapeutics Have A Long Cash Runway?
You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. In June 2020, AVITA Therapeutics had US$74m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$24m. That means it had a cash runway of about 3.1 years as of June 2020. Importantly, analysts think that AVITA Therapeutics will reach cashflow breakeven in 3 years. That means it doesn't have a great deal of breathing room, but it shouldn't really need more cash, considering that cash burn should be continually reducing. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Well Is AVITA Therapeutics Growing?
Some investors might find it troubling that AVITA Therapeutics is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 15% in the last year. On a more positive note, the operating revenue improved by 161% over the period, offering an indication that the expenditure may well be worthwhile. If that revenue does keep flowing reliably, then the company could see a strong improvement in free cash flow simply by reducing growth expenditure. It seems to be growing nicely. 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 AVITA Therapeutics Raise More Cash Easily?
There's no doubt AVITA Therapeutics 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. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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$463m, AVITA Therapeutics' US$24m in cash burn equates to about 5.1% 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 AVITA Therapeutics' Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way AVITA Therapeutics is burning through its cash. For example, we think its revenue growth suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. 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. Its important for readers to be cognizant of the risks that can affect the company's operations, and we've picked out 3 warning signs for AVITA Therapeutics that investors should know when investing in the stock.
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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. 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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