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We're Hopeful That Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) Will Use Its Cash Wisely

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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So, the natural question for Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) 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). We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

Check out our latest analysis for Virgin Galactic Holdings

When Might Virgin Galactic Holdings Run Out Of Money?

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. As at September 2021, Virgin Galactic Holdings had cash of US$732m and such minimal debt that we can ignore it for the purposes of this analysis. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$242m. So it had a cash runway of about 3.0 years from September 2021. Importantly, analysts think that Virgin Galactic Holdings will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Virgin Galactic Holdings' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Virgin Galactic Holdings doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$3.2m in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. With cash burn dropping by 6.2% it seems management feel the company is spending enough to advance its business plans at an appropriate pace. 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.

Can Virgin Galactic Holdings Raise More Cash Easily?

While Virgin Galactic Holdings is showing a solid reduction in its cash burn, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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 US$2.1b, Virgin Galactic Holdings' US$242m in cash burn equates to about 12% 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 Virgin Galactic Holdings' Cash Burn Situation?

It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Virgin Galactic Holdings is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. On this analysis its cash burn reduction was its weakest feature, but we are not concerned about it. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. 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 4 warning signs for Virgin Galactic Holdings 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.