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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for Rock Tech Lithium (CVE:RCK) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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.
Does Rock Tech Lithium 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 March 2020, Rock Tech Lithium had CA$1.8m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$1.4m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 15 months from March 2020. 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 Rock Tech Lithium's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Rock Tech Lithium didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Even though it doesn't get us excited, the 30% reduction in cash burn year on year does suggest the company can continue operating for quite some time. Rock Tech Lithium 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 Rock Tech Lithium To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Rock Tech Lithium to raise more cash in the future. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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).
Rock Tech Lithium's cash burn of CA$1.4m is about 6.2% of its CA$23m market capitalisation. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.
Is Rock Tech Lithium's Cash Burn A Worry?
Rock Tech Lithium appears to be in pretty good health when it comes to its cash burn situation. Not only was its cash burn reduction quite good, but its cash burn relative to its market cap was a real positive. 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. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 4 warning signs for Rock Tech Lithium (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.
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. 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. Thank you for reading.