We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Red Emperor Resources (ASX:RMP) shareholders should be worried about its 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is Red Emperor Resources's Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. As at June 2019, Red Emperor Resources had cash of AU$5.6m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was AU$9.7m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 7 months from June 2019. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Importantly, if we extrapolate recent cash burn trends, the cash runway would be a lot longer. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Red Emperor Resources's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Although Red Emperor Resources reported revenue of AU$74k last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. That means we consider it a pre-revenue business, and we will focus our growth analysis on cash burn, for now. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 1070%. Given that sharp increase in spending, the company's cash runway will shrink rapidly as it depletes its cash reserves. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Red Emperor Resources due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
Can Red Emperor Resources Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Red Emperor Resources 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. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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$5.8m, Red Emperor Resources's AU$9.7m in cash burn equates to about 168% of its market value. 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.
How Risky Is Red Emperor Resources's Cash Burn Situation?
There are no prizes for guessing that we think Red Emperor Resources's cash burn is a bit of a worry. In particular, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests it isn't in a good position to keep funding growth. And although we accept its cash runway wasn't as worrying as its cash burn relative to its market cap, it was still a real negative; as indeed were all the factors we considered in this article. Looking at the metrics in this article all together, we consider its cash burn situation to be rather dangerous, and likely to cost shareholders one way or the other. While it's important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that Red Emperor Resources insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.
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)
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