We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. 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 Hastings Technology Metals (ASX:HAS) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Hastings Technology Metals' Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In December 2021, Hastings Technology Metals had AU$96m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was AU$15m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from December 2021 it had 6.6 years of cash runway. Notably, however, analysts think that Hastings Technology Metals will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. If that happens, then the length of its cash runway, today, would become a moot point. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Hastings Technology Metals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Hastings Technology 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 33%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
Can Hastings Technology Metals Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Hastings Technology Metals shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$8.1b, Hastings Technology Metals' AU$15m in cash burn equates to about 0.2% of its market value. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.
Is Hastings Technology Metals' Cash Burn A Worry?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Hastings Technology Metals is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway 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. Shareholders can take heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven. After considering a range of factors in this article, we're pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 3 warning signs for Hastings Technology Metals (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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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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.