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 software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com 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 Pets.com?
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Guardant Health (NASDAQ:GH) shareholders should 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). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does Guardant Health Have A Long 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 September 2020, Guardant Health had cash of US$1.0b and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$129m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 7.9 years as of September 2020. While this is only one measure of its cash burn situation, it certainly gives us the impression that holders have nothing to worry about. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is Guardant Health Growing?
Notably, Guardant Health actually ramped up its cash burn very hard and fast in the last year, by 113%, signifying heavy investment in the business. On the bright side, at least operating revenue was up 47% over the same period, giving some cause for hope. Considering the factors above, the company doesn’t fare badly when it comes to assessing how it is changing over time. 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 Easily Can Guardant Health Raise Cash?
There's no doubt Guardant Health seems to be in a fairly good position, when it comes to managing its cash burn, but even if it's only hypothetical, it's always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund growth. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$13b, Guardant Health's US$129m in cash burn equates to about 1.0% of its market value. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.
How Risky Is Guardant Health's Cash Burn Situation?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Guardant Health's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. Although we do find its increasing cash burn to be a bit of a negative, once we consider the other metrics mentioned in this article together, the overall picture is one we are comfortable with. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 2 warning signs for Guardant Health 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)
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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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