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Companies Like Bougainville Copper (ASX:BOC) Are In A Position To Invest In Growth

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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 Bougainville Copper (ASX:BOC) 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). Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for Bougainville Copper

How Long Is Bougainville Copper'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. When Bougainville Copper last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth K7.4m. In the last year, its cash burn was K7.4m. That means it had a cash runway of around 12 months as of June 2019. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

ASX:BOC Historical Debt, December 14th 2019

How Is Bougainville Copper's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In the last year, Bougainville Copper did book revenue of K5.5m, but its revenue from operations was less, at just K656k. We don't think that's enough operating revenue for us to understand too much from revenue growth rates, since the company is growing off a low base. So we'll focus on the cash burn, today. As it happens, the company's cash burn reduced by 52% over the last year, which suggests that management are mindful of the possibility of running out of cash. Bougainville Copper 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 Hard Would It Be For Bougainville Copper To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While we're comforted by the recent reduction evident from our analysis of Bougainville Copper's cash burn, it is still worth considering how easily the company could raise more funds, if it wanted to accelerate spending to drive growth. 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. 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$96m, Bougainville Copper's K7.4m in cash burn equates to about 3.3% of its market value. 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.

Is Bougainville Copper's Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its cash runway makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Bougainville Copper's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. 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. 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 Bougainville Copper's CEO gets paid each year.

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)

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.

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