There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for TuSimple Holdings (NASDAQ:TSP) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
How Long Is TuSimple Holdings' 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 June 2021, TuSimple Holdings had cash of US$1.5b and such minimal debt that we can ignore it for the purposes of this analysis. Importantly, its cash burn was US$180m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 8.3 years as of June 2021. Notably, however, analysts think that TuSimple Holdings will break even (at a free cash flow level) 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 TuSimple Holdings' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, TuSimple Holdings doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just US$3.7m in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 84%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. 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.
Can TuSimple Holdings Raise More Cash Easily?
While TuSimple Holdings 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. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and fund 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$7.8b, TuSimple Holdings' US$180m in cash burn equates to about 2.3% of its market value. 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.
So, Should We Worry About TuSimple Holdings' Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about TuSimple Holdings' cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. 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. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for TuSimple Holdings that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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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.
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