We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So, the natural question for Cautivo Mining (CNSX:CAI) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Cautivo Mining's 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. As at September 2019, Cautivo Mining had cash of US$1.2m and no debt. In the last year, its cash burn was US$4.1m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 4 months from September 2019. That's a very short cash runway which indicates an imminent need to douse the cash burn or find more funding. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Cautivo Mining's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Cautivo Mining 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. The skyrocketing cash burn up 103% 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. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Cautivo Mining due to its lack of significant operating revenues. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
How Hard Would It Be For Cautivo Mining To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since its cash burn is moving in the wrong direction, Cautivo Mining shareholders may wish to think ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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.
Cautivo Mining's cash burn of US$4.1m is about 164% of its CA$3.3m market capitalisation. 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 Cautivo Mining's Cash Burn?
There are no prizes for guessing that we think Cautivo Mining's cash burn is a bit of a worry. Take, for example, its cash burn relative to its market cap, which suggests the company may have difficulty funding itself, in the future. And although we accept its increasing cash burn wasn't as worrying as its cash burn relative to its market cap, it was still a real negative; as indeed were all the factors we considered in this article. 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. We think it's very important to consider the cash burn for loss making companies, but other considerations such as the amount the CEO is paid can also enhance your understanding of the business. You can click here to see what Cautivo Mining's CEO gets paid each year.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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