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Here's Why Applied Graphene Materials (LON:AGM) Must Use Its Cash Wisely

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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 Applied Graphene Materials (LON:AGM) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

Check out our latest analysis for Applied Graphene Materials

How Long Is Applied Graphene Materials's Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. When Applied Graphene Materials last reported its balance sheet in January 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth UK£4.3m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through UK£3.9m. Therefore, from January 2020 it had roughly 13 months of cash runway. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

AIM:AGM Historical Debt April 13th 2020
AIM:AGM Historical Debt April 13th 2020

How Is Applied Graphene Materials's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Applied Graphene Materials doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just UK£59k in the last twelve months. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 5.0%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

Can Applied Graphene Materials Raise More Cash Easily?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Applied Graphene Materials shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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).

Applied Graphene Materials's cash burn of UK£3.9m is about 81% of its UK£4.8m 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.

How Risky Is Applied Graphene Materials's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of Applied Graphene Materials's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its cash burn relative to its market cap has us a bit worried. After looking at that range of measures, we think shareholders should be extremely attentive to how the company is using its cash, as the cash burn makes us uncomfortable. On another note, Applied Graphene Materials has 4 warning signs (and 2 which don't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.

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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.