Even when a business is losing money, it's possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. 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 Ballard Power Systems (TSE:BLDP) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
When Might Ballard Power Systems Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Ballard Power Systems last reported its balance sheet in March 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth US$1.3b. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$62m. That means it had a cash runway of very many years as of March 2021. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is Ballard Power Systems Growing?
Notably, Ballard Power Systems actually ramped up its cash burn very hard and fast in the last year, by 110%, signifying heavy investment in the business. While that's concerning on it's own, the fact that operating revenue was actually down 14% over the same period makes us positively tremulous. Considering both these metrics, we're a little concerned about how the company is developing. 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 Easily Can Ballard Power Systems Raise Cash?
Ballard Power Systems seems to be in a fairly good position, in terms of cash burn, but we still think it's worthwhile considering how easily it could raise more money if it wanted to. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and fund 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.
Ballard Power Systems has a market capitalisation of US$5.1b and burnt through US$62m last year, which is 1.2% of the company's market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
How Risky Is Ballard Power Systems' Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Ballard Power Systems is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. 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. Considering all the factors discussed in this article, we're not overly concerned about the company's cash burn, although we do think shareholders should keep an eye on how it develops. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Ballard Power Systems that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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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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