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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 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.
So should Zymeworks (NYSE:ZYME) 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
Does Zymeworks Have A Long 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. When Zymeworks last reported its balance sheet in June 2021, it had zero debt and cash worth US$360m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$161m. Therefore, from June 2021 it had 2.2 years of cash runway. Notably, however, analysts think that Zymeworks will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Well Is Zymeworks Growing?
Some investors might find it troubling that Zymeworks is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 7.7% in the last year. And we must say we find it concerning that operating revenue dropped 32% over the same period. Considering both these metrics, we're a little concerned about how the company is developing. 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.
Can Zymeworks Raise More Cash Easily?
While Zymeworks seems to be in a fairly good position, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. 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).
Zymeworks' cash burn of US$161m is about 9.6% of its US$1.7b 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 Zymeworks' Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Zymeworks' cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its falling revenue 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. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 2 warning signs for Zymeworks (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course Zymeworks 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.
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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