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 the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So, the natural question for Anavex Life Sciences (NASDAQ:AVXL) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
Does Anavex Life Sciences 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. In June 2020, Anavex Life Sciences had US$28m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$18m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 19 months from June 2020. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Anavex Life Sciences' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Anavex Life Sciences isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. With cash burn dropping by 12% it seems management feel the company is spending enough to advance its business plans at an appropriate pace. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For Anavex Life Sciences To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Anavex Life Sciences 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. 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. 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.
Anavex Life Sciences' cash burn of US$18m is about 7.1% of its US$247m market capitalisation. 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.
So, Should We Worry About Anavex Life Sciences' Cash Burn?
Anavex Life Sciences appears to be in pretty good health when it comes to its cash burn situation. One the one hand we have its solid cash runway, while on the other it can also boast very strong cash burn relative to its market cap. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. On another note, Anavex Life Sciences has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
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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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