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Here's Why We're Not At All Concerned With Precise Biometrics's (STO:PREC) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So should Precise Biometrics (STO:PREC) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for Precise Biometrics

How Long Is Precise Biometrics'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 Precise Biometrics last reported its balance sheet in September 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth kr61m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through kr31m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.0 years as of September 2019. Importantly, though, analysts think that Precise Biometrics will reach cashflow breakeven 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.

OM:PREC Historical Debt, January 8th 2020

How Well Is Precise Biometrics Growing?

Some investors might find it troubling that Precise Biometrics is actually increasing its cash burn, which is up 23% in the last year. In light of that, the flat year on year operating leverage is a bit off-putting. In light of the data above, we're fairly sanguine about the business growth trajectory. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Hard Would It Be For Precise Biometrics To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Precise Biometrics seems to be in a fairly good position, in terms of cash burn, but we still think it's worthwhile considering how easily it could raise more money if it wanted to. 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 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.

Precise Biometrics's cash burn of kr31m is about 5.1% of its kr604m market capitalisation. 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 Precise Biometrics's Cash Burn A Worry?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Precise Biometrics's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap 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. There's no doubt that shareholders can take a lot of heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven before too long. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. 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: Precise Biometrics insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course Precise Biometrics may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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.