We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. 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.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether WhiteHawk (ASX:WHK) 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. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
When Might WhiteHawk Run Out Of Money?
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 2021, WhiteHawk had cash of US$2.1m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$1.7m. Therefore, from June 2021 it had roughly 15 months of cash runway. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is WhiteHawk's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Whilst it's great to see that WhiteHawk has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$2.4m, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 53%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. In reality, this article only makes a short study of the company's growth data. This graph of historic revenue growth shows how WhiteHawk is building its business over time.
Can WhiteHawk Raise More Cash Easily?
While WhiteHawk 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. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
WhiteHawk has a market capitalisation of US$22m and burnt through US$1.7m last year, which is 7.8% of the company's market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
So, Should We Worry About WhiteHawk's Cash Burn?
On this analysis of WhiteHawk's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 4 warning signs for WhiteHawk (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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.
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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.