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Companies Like Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) Can Afford To Invest In Growth

Simply Wall St

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 Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) 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.

See our latest analysis for Slack Technologies

How Long Is Slack Technologies's Cash Runway?

You can calculate a company's cash runway by dividing the amount of cash it has by the rate at which it is spending that cash. When Slack Technologies last reported its balance sheet in July 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$785m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$119m. Therefore, from July 2019 it had 6.6 years of cash runway. Notably, however, analysts think that Slack Technologies will break even (at a free cash flow level) before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NYSE:WORK Historical Debt, September 23rd 2019

How Well Is Slack Technologies Growing?

Slack Technologies boosted investment sharply in the last year, with cash burn ramping by 50%. Of course, the truly verdant revenue growth of 130% in that time may well justify the growth spend. On balance, we'd say the company is improving over time. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

Can Slack Technologies Raise More Cash Easily?

While Slack Technologies seems to be in a decent position, we reckon it is still worth thinking about how easily it could raise more cash, if that proved desirable. 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 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.

Slack Technologies's cash burn of US$119m is about 0.9% of its US$14b market capitalisation. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.

How Risky Is Slack Technologies's Cash Burn Situation?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Slack Technologies's cash burn. In particular, we think its revenue growth stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. It's clearly very positive to see that analysts are forecasting the company will break even fairly soon After considering a range of factors in this article, we're pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. 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: Slack Technologies 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 freelist 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.