There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether MAG Silver (TSE:MAG) shareholders should be worried about its 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
When Might MAG Silver Run Out Of Money?
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. In June 2019, MAG Silver had US$114m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$6.0m. So it had a very long cash runway of many years from June 2019. While this is only one measure of its cash burn situation, it certainly gives us the impression that holders have nothing to worry about. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is MAG Silver's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
MAG Silver didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. So while we can't look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. Cash burn was pretty flat over the last year, which suggests that management are holding spending steady while the business advances its strategy. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.
Can MAG Silver Raise More Cash Easily?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for MAG Silver to raise more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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).
MAG Silver's cash burn of US$6.0m is about 0.7% of its CA$1.1b 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.
So, Should We Worry About MAG Silver's Cash Burn?
As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about MAG Silver's cash burn. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. Its weak point is its cash burn reduction, but even that wasn't too bad! Taking all the factors in this report into account, we're not at all worried about its cash burn, as the business appears well capitalized to spend as needs be. While it's important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that MAG Silver insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.
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.
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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.