There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So should Allakos (NASDAQ:ALLK) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
Does Allakos Have A Long 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. As at December 2020, Allakos had cash of US$659m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$115m. Therefore, from December 2020 it had 5.8 years of cash runway. Notably, however, analysts think that Allakos will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Allakos' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Allakos isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 79%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. 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.
How Easily Can Allakos Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Allakos shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive growth. We can compare a company's cash burn to its market capitalisation to get a sense for how many new shares a company would have to issue to fund one year's operations.
Allakos' cash burn of US$115m is about 2.0% of its US$5.8b market capitalisation. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
Is Allakos' Cash Burn A Worry?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Allakos is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. 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 4 warning signs for Allakos that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
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Allakos Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, develops therapeutics that target immunomodulatory receptors present on immune effector cells in allergy, inflammatory, and proliferative diseases.
Flawless balance sheet and slightly overvalued.