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We Think Phoenix New Media (NYSE:FENG) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So, the natural question for Phoenix New Media (NYSE:FENG) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for Phoenix New Media

When Might Phoenix New Media Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. As at March 2023, Phoenix New Media had cash of CN¥1.1b and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was CN¥346m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 3.2 years as of March 2023. A runway of this length affords the company the time and space it needs to develop the business. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Well Is Phoenix New Media Growing?

Phoenix New Media actually ramped up its cash burn by a whopping 68% in the last year, which shows it is boosting investment in the business. While that's concerning on it's own, the fact that operating revenue was actually down 23% over the same period makes us positively tremulous. Considering both these metrics, we're a little concerned about how the company is developing. In reality, this article only makes a short study of the company's growth data. This graph of historic earnings and revenue shows how Phoenix New Media is building its business over time.

How Hard Would It Be For Phoenix New Media To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While Phoenix New Media 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. 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.

Phoenix New Media's cash burn of CN¥346m is about 173% of its CN¥201m market capitalisation. Given just how high that expenditure is, relative to the company's market value, we think there's an elevated risk of funding distress, and we would be very nervous about holding the stock.

Is Phoenix New Media's Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Phoenix New Media's cash runway was relatively promising. Summing up, we think the Phoenix New Media's cash burn is a risk, based on the factors we mentioned in this article. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 3 warning signs for Phoenix New Media (of which 1 is concerning!) you should know about.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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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