Health Check: How Prudently Does Fusion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:FUSN) Use Debt?

Fusion Pharmaceuticals -0.09%

Fusion Pharmaceuticals




Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. As with many other companies Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:FUSN) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Fusion Pharmaceuticals

What Is Fusion Pharmaceuticals's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Fusion Pharmaceuticals had US$34.6m in debt in September 2023; about the same as the year before. But on the other hand it also has US$191.3m in cash, leading to a US$156.7m net cash position.

NasdaqGS:FUSN Debt to Equity History January 30th 2024

A Look At Fusion Pharmaceuticals' Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Fusion Pharmaceuticals had liabilities of US$17.5m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$47.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$191.3m in cash and US$2.37m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it actually has US$128.8m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

It's good to see that Fusion Pharmaceuticals has plenty of liquidity on its balance sheet, suggesting conservative management of liabilities. Given it has easily adequate short term liquidity, we don't think it will have any issues with its lenders. Succinctly put, Fusion Pharmaceuticals boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load! The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Fusion Pharmaceuticals's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Over 12 months, Fusion Pharmaceuticals reported revenue of US$2.2m, which is a gain of 15%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. That rate of growth is a bit slow for our taste, but it takes all types to make a world.

So How Risky Is Fusion Pharmaceuticals?

By their very nature companies that are losing money are more risky than those with a long history of profitability. And the fact is that over the last twelve months Fusion Pharmaceuticals lost money at the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) line. And over the same period it saw negative free cash outflow of US$87m and booked a US$91m accounting loss. But at least it has US$156.7m on the balance sheet to spend on growth, near-term. Overall, its balance sheet doesn't seem overly risky, at the moment, but we're always cautious until we see the positive free cash flow. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. We've identified 5 warning signs with Fusion Pharmaceuticals (at least 2 which make us uncomfortable) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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