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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So should Sovereign Metals (ASX:SVM) shareholders be worried about its 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). Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Sovereign Metals' Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In June 2022, Sovereign Metals had AU$19m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$10m. That means it had a cash runway of around 22 months as of June 2022. Notably, analysts forecast that Sovereign Metals will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Sovereign Metals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Sovereign Metals isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. The skyrocketing cash burn up 147% year on year certainly tests our nerves. That sort of spending growth rate can't continue for very long before it causes balance sheet weakness, generally speaking. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Sovereign Metals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Sovereign Metals 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. 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.
Sovereign Metals' cash burn of AU$10m is about 6.0% of its AU$172m 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.
So, Should We Worry About Sovereign Metals' Cash Burn?
Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Sovereign Metals' cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. 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. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 3 warning signs for Sovereign Metals you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.
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)
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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.
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