Even when a business is losing money, it's possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Sovereign Metals (ASX:SVM) shareholders should be worried about its 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does Sovereign Metals Have A Long 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, Sovereign Metals had AU$8.0m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$4.2m. Therefore, from June 2021 it had roughly 23 months of cash runway. 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. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Sovereign Metals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Sovereign Metals isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. It seems likely that the business is content with its current spending, as the cash burn rate stayed steady over the last twelve months. Sovereign Metals makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
How Hard Would It Be For Sovereign Metals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, Sovereign Metals shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$235m, Sovereign Metals' AU$4.2m in cash burn equates to about 1.8% of its market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
How Risky Is Sovereign Metals' Cash Burn Situation?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Sovereign Metals' cash burn. For example, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don't think they should be worried. Taking an in-depth view of risks, we've identified 2 warning signs for Sovereign Metals that you should be aware of before investing.
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)
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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