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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So, the natural question for Fennec Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:FENC) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is Fennec Pharmaceuticals' Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. In March 2021, Fennec Pharmaceuticals had US$27m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$15m. Therefore, from March 2021 it had roughly 21 months of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Fennec Pharmaceuticals will reach cashflow breakeven in around 22 months. That means it doesn't have a great deal of breathing room, but it shouldn't really need more cash, considering that cash burn should be continually reducing. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Fennec Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, Fennec Pharmaceuticals doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$170k in the last twelve months. 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. With the cash burn rate up 49% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. 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. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
Can Fennec Pharmaceuticals Raise More Cash Easily?
While Fennec Pharmaceuticals 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 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).
Fennec Pharmaceuticals' cash burn of US$15m is about 9.0% of its US$172m 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 Fennec Pharmaceuticals' Cash Burn?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Fennec Pharmaceuticals is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it 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. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 2 warning signs for Fennec Pharmaceuticals (1 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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