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We're Not Very Worried About Zogenix's (NASDAQ:ZGNX) Cash Burn Rate

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Zogenix (NASDAQ:ZGNX) shareholders should be worried about its 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. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Zogenix

How Long Is Zogenix's 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 September 2019, Zogenix had US$255m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$116m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.2 years as of September 2019. Notably, analysts forecast that Zogenix will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 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. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqGM:ZGNX Historical Debt, January 23rd 2020

How Is Zogenix's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Although Zogenix had revenue of US$1.7m in the last twelve months, its operating revenue was only US$1.7m in that time period. We don't think that's enough operating revenue for us to understand too much from revenue growth rates, since the company is growing off a low base. So we'll focus on the cash burn, today. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 2.7%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. 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.

Can Zogenix Raise More Cash Easily?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Zogenix shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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.

Zogenix's cash burn of US$116m is about 4.8% of its US$2.4b market capitalisation. 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.

So, Should We Worry About Zogenix's Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Zogenix's cash burn. For example, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap 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. 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. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Zogenix insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

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.