Stock Analysis

    Companies Like Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (TSE:AUP) Can Afford To Invest In Growth

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    We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although software-as-a-service business lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers

    So should Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (TSE:AUP) shareholders 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

    View our latest analysis for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals

    How Long Is Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' Cash Runway?

    You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. As at March 2021, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals had cash of US$348m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$109m. So it had a cash runway of about 3.2 years from March 2021. Importantly, though, analysts think that Aurinia Pharmaceuticals will reach cashflow breakeven before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

    TSX:AUP Debt to Equity History June 25th 2021

    How Is Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

    In our view, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$51m in the last twelve months. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 49%, 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. 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 Aurinia Pharmaceuticals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

    While Aurinia Pharmaceuticals does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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.

    Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.9b, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' US$109m in cash burn equates to about 5.9% of its 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.

    So, Should We Worry About Aurinia Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn?

    It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Aurinia Pharmaceuticals is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. After considering a range of factors in this article, we're pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 2 warning signs for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.

    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.

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