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 while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Anavex Life Sciences (NASDAQ:AVXL) 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). Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Anavex Life Sciences' 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 March 2022, Anavex Life Sciences had cash of US$153m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$28m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 5.4 years as of March 2022. Importantly, though, analysts think that Anavex Life Sciences will reach cashflow breakeven before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Anavex Life Sciences' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Anavex Life Sciences didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 11%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For Anavex Life Sciences To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Anavex Life Sciences 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. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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 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.
Anavex Life Sciences' cash burn of US$28m is about 4.7% of its US$598m market capitalisation. 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 Anavex Life Sciences' Cash Burn?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Anavex Life Sciences 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. It's clearly very positive to see that analysts are forecasting the company will break even fairly soon. After considering a range of factors in this article, we're pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 3 warning signs for Anavex Life Sciences (of which 1 is significant!) you should know about.
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What are the risks and opportunities for Anavex Life Sciences?
Earnings are forecast to grow 53.03% per year
Makes less than USD$1m in revenue ($0)
Shareholders have been diluted in the past year
Volatile share price over the past 3 months
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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.
Anavex Life Sciences
Anavex Life Sciences Corp., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, engages in the development of drug candidates for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases.
Flawless balance sheet with high growth potential.