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We're Keeping An Eye On VirnetX Holding's (NYSEMKT:VHC) Cash Burn Rate

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. 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 VirnetX Holding (NYSEMKT:VHC) 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's cash, relative to its cash burn.

Check out our latest analysis for VirnetX Holding

Does VirnetX Holding 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. As at September 2019, VirnetX Holding had cash of US$5.2m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$16m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 4 months from September 2019. That's a very short cash runway which indicates an imminent need to douse the cash burn or find more funding. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

AMEX:VHC Historical Debt, February 12th 2020

How Is VirnetX Holding's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that VirnetX Holding has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$85k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. As it happens, the company's cash burn reduced by 22% over the last year, which suggests that management are mindful of the possibility of running out of cash. VirnetX Holding makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.

How Hard Would It Be For VirnetX Holding To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While VirnetX Holding 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. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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$327m, VirnetX Holding's US$16m in cash burn equates to about 5.0% of its market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

Is VirnetX Holding's Cash Burn A Worry?

On this analysis of VirnetX Holding's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its cash runway has us a bit worried. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. 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 VirnetX Holding's CEO gets paid each year.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.