There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 Keytone Dairy (ASX:KTD) 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. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is Keytone Dairy's 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. In March 2019, Keytone Dairy had AU$9.8m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$5.0m. So it had a cash runway of about 2.0 years from March 2019. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Well Is Keytone Dairy Growing?
One thing for shareholders to keep front in mind is that Keytone Dairy increased its cash burn by 1475% in the last twelve months. But the silver lining is that operating revenue increased by 24% in that time. Taken together, we think these growth metrics are a little worrying. Of course, we've only taken a quick look at the stock's growth metrics, here. You can take a look at how Keytone Dairy has developed its business over time by checking this visualization of its revenue and earnings history.
Can Keytone Dairy Raise More Cash Easily?
Even though it seems like Keytone Dairy is developing its business nicely, we still like to consider how easily it could raise more money to accelerate growth. 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 to fund 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).
Keytone Dairy's cash burn of AU$5.0m is about 4.7% of its AU$105m market capitalisation. 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.
How Risky Is Keytone Dairy's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Keytone Dairy's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn 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. While we always like to monitor cash burn for early stage companies, qualitative factors such as the CEO pay can also shed light on the situation. Click here to see free what the Keytone Dairy CEO is paid..
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)
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