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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. By way of example, Rock Tech Lithium (CVE:RCK) has seen its share price rise 558% over the last year, delighting many shareholders. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So notwithstanding the buoyant share price, we think it's well worth asking whether Rock Tech Lithium's cash burn is too risky. 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.
Does Rock Tech Lithium Have A Long Cash Runway?
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. Rock Tech Lithium has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the CA$17m in cash it held at March 2021. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$2.7m. So it had a cash runway of about 6.4 years from March 2021. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. 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?
Because Rock Tech Lithium 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. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 91%. 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. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Rock Tech Lithium due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
Can Rock Tech Lithium Raise More Cash Easily?
While Rock Tech Lithium 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.
Rock Tech Lithium's cash burn of CA$2.7m is about 1.2% of its CA$221m market capitalisation. 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 Rock Tech Lithium's Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Rock Tech Lithium is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. Although we do find its increasing cash burn to be a bit of a negative, once we consider the other metrics mentioned in this article together, the overall picture is one we are comfortable with. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 4 warning signs for Rock Tech Lithium you should be aware of, and 1 of them is concerning.
Of course Rock Tech Lithium may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.
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.
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