Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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.
So, the natural question for EMCORE (NASDAQ:EMKR) 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.
Does EMCORE Have A Long 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. As at June 2019, EMCORE had cash of US$21m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$23m. That means it had a cash runway of around 11 months as of June 2019. To be frank, this kind of short runway puts us on edge, as it indicates the company must reduce its cash burn significantly, or else raise cash imminently. We should note, however, that if we extrapolate recent trends in its cash burn, then its cash runway would get a lot longer. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is EMCORE Growing?
One thing for shareholders to keep front in mind is that EMCORE increased its cash burn by 2285% in the last twelve months. That's not ideal, but we're made even more nervous given that operating revenue was flat over the same period. Considering these two factors together makes us nervous about the direction the company seems to be heading. 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.
How Hard Would It Be For EMCORE To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since EMCORE can't yet boast improving growth metrics, the market will likely be considering how it can raise more cash if need be. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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.
EMCORE has a market capitalisation of US$90m and burnt through US$23m last year, which is 26% of the company's market value. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
Is EMCORE's Cash Burn A Worry?
We must admit that we don't think EMCORE is in a very strong position, when it comes to its cash burn. Although we can understand if some shareholders find its falling revenue acceptable, we can't ignore the fact that we consider its increasing cash burn to be downright troublesome. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we'd be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. 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 EMCORE's CEO gets paid each year.
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