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Can Aurcana (CVE:AUN) Afford To Invest In Growth?

Simply Wall St

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

So should Aurcana (CVE:AUN) shareholders 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. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for Aurcana

Does Aurcana 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. When Aurcana last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$1.2m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$7.1m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 2 months from June 2019. To be frank we are alarmed by how short that cash runway is! The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

TSXV:AUN Historical Debt, November 12th 2019

How Is Aurcana's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Aurcana has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$254k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 47%, 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. Aurcana 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.

Can Aurcana Raise More Cash Easily?

Since its cash burn is moving in the wrong direction, Aurcana shareholders may wish to think ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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).

Aurcana's cash burn of US$7.1m is about 27% of its CA$35m market capitalisation. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

How Risky Is Aurcana's Cash Burn Situation?

There are no prizes for guessing that we think Aurcana's cash burn is a bit of a worry. 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 cash burn relative to its market cap is also a concern, and considering everything mentioned above, we're struggling to find much to be optimistic about. Once we consider the metrics mentioned in this article together, we're left with very little confidence in the company's ability to manage its cash burn, and we think it will probably need more money. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Aurcana insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

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)

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.