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. 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, the natural question for Athira Pharma (NASDAQ:ATHA) 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'. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
View our latest analysis for Athira Pharma
How Long Is Athira Pharma's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In September 2022, Athira Pharma had US$221m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$77m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.9 years as of September 2022. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Athira Pharma's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Athira Pharma 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. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 101%. It's fair to say that sort of rate of increase cannot be maintained for very long, without putting pressure on the balance sheet. 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 Hard Would It Be For Athira Pharma To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Athira Pharma 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. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Athira Pharma's cash burn of US$77m is about 51% of its US$151m market capitalisation. That's high expenditure relative to the value of the entire company, so if it does have to issue shares to fund more growth, that could end up really hurting shareholders returns (through significant dilution).
How Risky Is Athira Pharma's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Athira Pharma's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 3 warning signs for Athira Pharma (of which 2 are concerning!) you should know about.
Of course Athira Pharma 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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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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