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 the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So should Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
Does Virgin Galactic Holdings Have A Long Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at December 2021, Virgin Galactic Holdings had cash of US$604m and such minimal debt that we can ignore it for the purposes of this analysis. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$235m. Therefore, from December 2021 it had 2.6 years of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Virgin Galactic Holdings will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Virgin Galactic Holdings' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, Virgin Galactic Holdings doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$3.3m in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. With cash burn dropping by 6.0% it seems management feel the company is spending enough to advance its business plans at an appropriate pace. 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.
Can Virgin Galactic Holdings Raise More Cash Easily?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Virgin Galactic Holdings to raise more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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).
Virgin Galactic Holdings has a market capitalisation of US$2.5b and burnt through US$235m last year, which is 9.4% of the company's 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 Virgin Galactic Holdings' Cash Burn?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Virgin Galactic Holdings 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. On this analysis its cash burn reduction was its weakest feature, but we are not concerned about it. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don't think they should be worried. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 4 warning signs for Virgin Galactic Holdings 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 companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.