We Think Adverum Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:ADVM) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 12, 2022
NasdaqGM:ADVM
Source: Shutterstock

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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 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 Adverum Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:ADVM) 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). We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for Adverum Biotechnologies

Does Adverum Biotechnologies 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. In December 2021, Adverum Biotechnologies had US$305m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was US$123m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from December 2021 it had 2.5 years of cash runway. That's decent, giving the company a couple years to develop its business. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGM:ADVM Debt to Equity History May 12th 2022

How Is Adverum Biotechnologies' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Adverum Biotechnologies has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$7.5m, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 35%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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 Easily Can Adverum Biotechnologies Raise Cash?

While Adverum Biotechnologies 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. 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).

Adverum Biotechnologies' cash burn of US$123m is about 128% of its US$96m market capitalisation. That suggests the company may have some funding difficulties, and we'd be very wary of the stock.

Is Adverum Biotechnologies' Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Adverum Biotechnologies' cash runway was relatively promising. Even though we don't think it has a problem with its cash burn, the analysis we've done in this article does suggest that shareholders should give some careful thought to the potential cost of raising more money in the future. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Adverum Biotechnologies that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.

Of course Adverum Biotechnologies may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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