- United Kingdom
- Energy Services
We're A Little Worried About Velocys' (LON:VLS) Cash Burn Rate
Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.
So should Velocys (LON:VLS) 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
See our latest analysis for Velocys
Does Velocys Have A Long Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When Velocys last reported its balance sheet in June 2022, it had zero debt and cash worth UK£19m. Importantly, its cash burn was UK£23m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from June 2022 it had roughly 10 months of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Velocys will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. Essentially, that means the company will either reduce its cash burn, or else require more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Velocys' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In the last year, Velocys did book revenue of UK£94k, but its revenue from operations was less, at just UK£94k. Given how low that operating leverage is, we think it's too early to put much weight on the revenue growth, so we'll focus on how the cash burn is changing, instead. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 105%. It's fair to say that sort of rate of increase cannot be maintained for very long, without putting pressure on the balance sheet. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. 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 Velocys To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since its cash burn is moving in the wrong direction, Velocys shareholders may wish to think ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of UK£46m, Velocys' UK£23m in cash burn equates to about 50% of its market value. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).
So, Should We Worry About Velocys' Cash Burn?
We must admit that we don't think Velocys is in a very strong position, when it comes to its cash burn. Although we can understand if some shareholders find its cash runway acceptable, we can't ignore the fact that we consider its increasing cash burn to be downright troublesome. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. After looking at that range of measures, we think shareholders should be extremely attentive to how the company is using its cash, as the cash burn makes us uncomfortable. On another note, Velocys has 5 warning signs (and 3 which are a bit concerning) we think you should know about.
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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.
Velocys plc operates as a renewable fuels company.
Adequate balance sheet and slightly overvalued.