We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So should 4SC (ETR:VSCA) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is 4SC's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. When 4SC last reported its balance sheet in June 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth €40m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through €12m. Therefore, from June 2021 it had 3.4 years of cash runway. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is 4SC's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Although 4SC had revenue of €16m in the last twelve months, its operating revenue was only €16m 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. While it hardly paints a picture of imminent growth, the fact that it has reduced its cash burn by 23% over the last year suggests some degree of prudence. 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.
Can 4SC Raise More Cash Easily?
While 4SC is showing a solid reduction in its cash burn, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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 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).
4SC's cash burn of €12m is about 22% of its €53m market capitalisation. 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 4SC's Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way 4SC is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its cash burn relative to its market cap wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. 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. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 4 warning signs for 4SC that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
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 decide to trade 4SC, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account. Promoted
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.