We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So, the natural question for GeoVax Labs (NASDAQ:GOVX) 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'. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
Does GeoVax Labs 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. As at March 2022, GeoVax Labs had cash of US$16m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$14m. Therefore, from March 2022 it had roughly 14 months of cash runway. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is GeoVax Labs' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Whilst it's great to see that GeoVax Labs has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$357k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. 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. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 236%. Given that sharp increase in spending, the company's cash runway will shrink rapidly as it depletes its cash reserves. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
How Easily Can GeoVax Labs Raise Cash?
While GeoVax Labs 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. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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).
GeoVax Labs' cash burn of US$14m is about 64% of its US$22m market capitalisation. Given how large that cash burn is, relative to the market value of the entire company, we'd consider it to be a high risk stock, with the real possibility of extreme dilution.
Is GeoVax Labs' Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of GeoVax Labs' cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. After looking at that range of measures, we think shareholders should be extremely attentive to how the company is using its cash, as the cash burn makes us uncomfortable. On another note, GeoVax Labs has 6 warning signs (and 2 which are a bit unpleasant) we think you should know about.
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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.