Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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 Alliance Growers (CSE:ACG) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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). We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is Alliance Growers's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. Alliance Growers has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the CA$198k in cash it held at May 2019. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$1.6m. Therefore, from May 2019 it had roughly 2 months of cash runway. It's extremely surprising to us that the company has allowed its cash runway to get that short! Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Alliance Growers's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Alliance Growers 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 17%, 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. Alliance Growers 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 Easily Can Alliance Growers Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Alliance Growers shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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.
Alliance Growers has a market capitalisation of CA$1.7m and burnt through CA$1.6m last year, which is 93% of the company's market value. Given just how high that expenditure is, relative to the company's market value, we think there's an elevated risk of funding distress, and we would be very nervous about holding the stock.
So, Should We Worry About Alliance Growers's Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're rather concerned about Alliance Growers's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway suggests it isn't in a good position to keep funding growth. While not as bad as its cash runway, its increasing cash burn is also a concern, and considering everything mentioned above, we're struggling to find much to be optimistic about. Its cash burn burn situation feels about as relaxing as riding your bicycle home in the rain without so much as a jumper. It's likely to need more cash in the near term; and that could well hurt returns. Notably, our data indicates that Alliance Growers insiders have been trading the shares. You can discover if they are buyers or sellers by clicking on this link.
Of course Alliance Growers 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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