There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So, the natural question for Life360 (ASX:360) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
When Might Life360 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 June 2019, Life360 had cash of US$78m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$26m. That means it had a cash runway of about 3.0 years as of June 2019. Importantly, though, analysts think that Life360 will reach cashflow breakeven before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Well Is Life360 Growing?
Life360 boosted investment sharply in the last year, with cash burn ramping by 99%. Of course, the truly verdant revenue growth of 293% in that time may well justify the growth spend. On balance, we'd say the company is improving over time. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Life360 To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Life360 seems to be in a decent position, we reckon it is still worth thinking about how easily it could raise more cash, if that proved desirable. 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 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.
Life360 has a market capitalisation of AU$480m and burnt through US$26m last year, which is 7.9% of the company's 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.
How Risky Is Life360's Cash Burn Situation?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Life360's cash burn. For example, we think its revenue growth suggests that the company is on a good path. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company 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. While we always like to monitor cash burn for early stage companies, qualitative factors such as the CEO pay can also shed light on the situation. Click here to see free what the Life360 CEO is paid..
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)
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.