Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. 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 Vista Gold (NYSEMKT:VGZ) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does Vista Gold Have A Long Cash Runway?
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. Vista Gold has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$8.2m in cash it held at June 2020. Importantly, its cash burn was US$6.9m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 14 months as of June 2020. Importantly, analysts think that Vista Gold will reach cashflow breakeven in 4 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Vista Gold's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Vista Gold 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. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For Vista Gold To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Vista Gold is showing a solid reduction in its cash burn, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Since it has a market capitalisation of US$124m, Vista Gold's US$6.9m in cash burn equates to about 5.6% of its market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
How Risky Is Vista Gold's Cash Burn Situation?
The good news is that in our view Vista Gold's cash burn situation gives shareholders real reason for optimism. Not only was its cash runway quite good, but its cash burn relative to its market cap was a real positive. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. While we're the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Vista Gold's situation. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 3 warning signs for Vista Gold (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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