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We Think Australian Strategic Materials (ASX:ASM) Can Afford To Drive Business Growth

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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 Australian Strategic Materials (ASX:ASM) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Australian Strategic Materials

How Long Is Australian Strategic Materials' 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 June 2021, Australian Strategic Materials had AU$93m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$14m. So it had a cash runway of about 6.6 years from June 2021. While this is only one measure of its cash burn situation, it certainly gives us the impression that holders have nothing to worry about. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

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

How Is Australian Strategic Materials' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Australian Strategic Materials doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just AU$1.4m in the last twelve months. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 321%. That kind of sharp increase in spending may pay off, but is generally considered quite risky. In reality, this article only makes a short study of the company's growth data. You can take a look at how Australian Strategic Materials is growing revenue over time by checking this visualization of past revenue growth.

How Easily Can Australian Strategic Materials Raise Cash?

While Australian Strategic Materials does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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 and fund growth. By looking at a company's cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year's cash burn.

Australian Strategic Materials' cash burn of AU$14m is about 1.1% of its AU$1.3b market capitalisation. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.

So, Should We Worry About Australian Strategic Materials' Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Australian Strategic Materials' cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While we must concede that its increasing cash burn is a bit worrying, the other factors mentioned in this article provide great comfort when it comes to the cash burn. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Its important for readers to be cognizant of the risks that can affect the company's operations, and we've picked out 3 warning signs for Australian Strategic Materials that investors should know when investing in the stock.

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.

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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