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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, 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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So, the natural question for AfriTin Mining (LON:ATM) 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.
When Might AfriTin Mining Run Out Of Money?
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. As at February 2019, AfriTin Mining had cash of UK£1.8m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was UK£6.8m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 3 months as of February 2019. With a cash runway that short, we strongly believe that the company must raise cash or else douse its cash burn promptly. Importantly, if we extrapolate recent cash burn trends, the cash runway would be noticeably longer. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is AfriTin Mining's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Whilst it's great to see that AfriTin Mining has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced UK£27k, 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. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 403%. With that kind of spending growth its cash runway will shorten quickly, as it simultaneously uses its cash while increasing the burn rate. AfriTin Mining makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
How Hard Would It Be For AfriTin Mining To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, AfriTin Mining shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further 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. 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.
AfriTin Mining has a market capitalisation of UK£19m and burnt through UK£6.8m last year, which is 36% of the company's 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 AfriTin Mining's Cash Burn A Worry?
As you can probably tell by now, we're rather concerned about AfriTin Mining's cash burn. In particular, we think its increasing cash burn suggests it isn't in a good position to keep funding growth. And although we accept its cash burn relative to its market cap wasn't as worrying as its increasing cash burn, it was still a real negative; as indeed were all the factors we considered in this article. The measures we've considered in this article lead us to believe its cash burn is actually quite concerning, and its weak cash position seems likely to cost shareholders one way or another. 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 AfriTin Mining 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)
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.