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Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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, the natural question for Adverum Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:ADVM) 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. Let’s start with an examination of the business’ cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Adverum Biotechnologies

Does Adverum Biotechnologies Have A Long 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 September 2020, Adverum Biotechnologies had cash of US$454m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$91m. Therefore, from September 2020 it had 5.0 years of cash runway. While this is only one measure of its cash burn situation, it certainly gives us the impression that holders have nothing to worry about. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Adverum Biotechnologies’ Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Adverum Biotechnologies 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 56%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. 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 Adverum Biotechnologies To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Adverum Biotechnologies 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 looking at a company’s cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year’s cash burn.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$1.2b, Adverum Biotechnologies’ US$91m in cash burn equates to about 7.8% of its market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year’s growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.

So, Should We Worry About Adverum Biotechnologies’ Cash Burn?

It may already be apparent to you that we’re relatively comfortable with the way Adverum Biotechnologies is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn’t great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we’re pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 5 warning signs for Adverum Biotechnologies (of which 3 can’t be ignored!) you should know about.

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)

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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