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Here's Why We're Watching Comet Ridge's (ASX:COI) 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 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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So, the natural question for Comet Ridge (ASX:COI) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Comet Ridge

How Long Is Comet Ridge's 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. As at June 2019, Comet Ridge had cash of AU$13m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$15m. Therefore, from June 2019 it had roughly 10 months of cash runway. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

ASX:COI Historical Debt, September 24th 2019

How Is Comet Ridge's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Although Comet Ridge reported revenue of AU$339k last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. To us, that makes it a pre-revenue company, so we'll look to its cash burn trajectory as an assessment of its cash burn situation. The skyrocketing cash burn up 120% year on year certainly tests our nerves. It's fair to say that sort of rate of increase cannot be maintained for very long, without putting pressure on the balance sheet. 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 Easily Can Comet Ridge Raise Cash?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Comet Ridge shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. 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 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$200m, Comet Ridge's AU$15m in cash burn equates to about 7.6% 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 Comet Ridge's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of Comet Ridge's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Even though we don't think it has a problem with its cash burn, the analysis we've done in this article does suggest that shareholders should give some careful thought to the potential cost of raising more money in the future. We think it's very important to consider the cash burn for loss making companies, but other considerations such as the amount the CEO is paid can also enhance your understanding of the business. You can click here to see what Comet Ridge's CEO gets paid each year.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.