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Here's Why We're Watching Atomera's (NASDAQ:ATOM) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St
·4 min read

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, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Atomera (NASDAQ:ATOM) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

View our latest analysis for Atomera

When Might Atomera Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. Atomera has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the US$15m in cash it held at December 2019. Importantly, its cash burn was US$10m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from December 2019 it had roughly 17 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. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

NasdaqCM:ATOM Historical Debt April 24th 2020
NasdaqCM:ATOM Historical Debt April 24th 2020

How Is Atomera's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Atomera has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$533k, 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 6.8%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. 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.

Can Atomera Raise More Cash Easily?

While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, Atomera shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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).

Atomera has a market capitalisation of US$80m and burnt through US$10m last year, which is 13% of the company's market value. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.

Is Atomera's Cash Burn A Worry?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Atomera's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 5 warning signs for Atomera (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)

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.