Companies Like Oncolytics Biotech (TSE:ONC) Are In A Position To Invest In Growth

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 15, 2021
TSX:ONC

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 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 Oncolytics Biotech (TSE:ONC) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.

Check out our latest analysis for Oncolytics Biotech

When Might Oncolytics Biotech Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In December 2020, Oncolytics Biotech had CA$31m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was CA$22m. Therefore, from December 2020 it had roughly 17 months of cash runway. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:ONC Debt to Equity History April 15th 2021

How Is Oncolytics Biotech's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Oncolytics Biotech isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 11%, 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. 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 Oncolytics Biotech To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Oncolytics Biotech 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. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and fund 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.

Oncolytics Biotech has a market capitalisation of CA$209m and burnt through CA$22m last year, which is 11% of the company's market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.

How Risky Is Oncolytics Biotech's Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Oncolytics Biotech's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. While we're the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Oncolytics Biotech's situation. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 3 warning signs for Oncolytics Biotech (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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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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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