There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether PolarX (ASX:PXX) shareholders should be worried about its 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). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does PolarX Have A Long Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When PolarX last reported its balance sheet in June 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth AU$3.5m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$6.3m. That means it had a cash runway of around 7 months as of June 2021. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Importantly, if we extrapolate recent cash burn trends, the cash runway would be a lot longer. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is PolarX's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Although PolarX reported revenue of AU$136 last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. To us, that makes it a pre-revenue company, so we'll look to its cash burn trajectory as an assessment of its cash burn situation. As it happens, the company's cash burn reduced by 8.0% over the last year, which suggests that management may be mindful of the risks of their depleting cash reserves. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of PolarX due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
How Hard Would It Be For PolarX To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for PolarX to raise more cash in the future. 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 AU$28m, PolarX's AU$6.3m in cash burn equates to about 22% of its market value. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.
How Risky Is PolarX's Cash Burn Situation?
Even though its cash runway makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought PolarX's cash burn reduction was relatively promising. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we'd be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 6 warning signs for PolarX (of which 2 don't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
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.
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.
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