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Companies Like MRG Metals (ASX:MRQ) Can Be Considered Quite Risky

Simply Wall St
·4-min read

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 MRG Metals (ASX:MRQ) 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'. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

View our latest analysis for MRG Metals

How Long Is MRG Metals'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 December 2019, MRG Metals had AU$1.5m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$1.9m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 9 months from December 2019. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

ASX:MRQ Historical Debt, March 23rd 2020
ASX:MRQ Historical Debt, March 23rd 2020

How Is MRG Metals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Although MRG Metals reported revenue of AU$36k last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. To us, that makes it a pre-revenue company, so we'll look to its cash burn trajectory as an assessment of its cash burn situation. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 81%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of MRG Metals due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

How Hard Would It Be For MRG Metals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its cash burn trajectory, MRG Metals shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$5.3m, MRG Metals's AU$1.9m in cash burn equates to about 36% of its market value. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.

Is MRG Metals's Cash Burn A Worry?

MRG Metals is not in a great position when it comes to its cash burn situation. Although we can understand if some shareholders find its cash burn relative to its market cap acceptable, we can't ignore the fact that we consider its increasing cash burn to be downright troublesome. 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, MRG Metals has 6 warning signs (and 3 which are potentially serious) we think you should know about.

If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.