Even when a business is losing money, it's possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So, the natural question for Eastern Iron (ASX:EFE) 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.
How Long Is Eastern Iron'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 June 2019, Eastern Iron had cash of AU$479k and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$548k. Therefore, from June 2019 it had roughly 10 months of cash runway. 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.
How Is Eastern Iron's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Whilst it's great to see that Eastern Iron has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced AU$12k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. As it happens, the company's cash burn reduced by 22% over the last year, which suggests that management are mindful of the possibility of running out of cash. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Eastern Iron due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
How Easily Can Eastern Iron Raise Cash?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Eastern Iron to raise more cash in the future. 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$1.6m, Eastern Iron's AU$548k in cash burn equates to about 33% of its market value. 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.
Is Eastern Iron's Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Eastern Iron's cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. For us, it's always important to consider risks around cash burn rates. But investors should look at a whole range of factors when researching a new stock. For example, it could be interesting to see how much the Eastern Iron CEO receives in total remuneration.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.