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Here's Why We're Watching Pointerra's (ASX:3DP) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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 should Pointerra (ASX:3DP) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

View our latest analysis for Pointerra

How Long Is Pointerra'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. In June 2019, Pointerra had AU$947k in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$1.5m. Therefore, from June 2019 it had roughly 8 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. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

ASX:3DP Historical Debt, October 18th 2019

How Is Pointerra's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Pointerra doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just AU$444k in the last twelve months. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 5.3%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Pointerra due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

How Hard Would It Be For Pointerra To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, Pointerra shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. 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 AU$30m, Pointerra's AU$1.5m in cash burn equates to about 5.1% of its market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About Pointerra's Cash Burn?

Even though its cash runway makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Pointerra's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. 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 Pointerra's CEO gets paid each year.

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)

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.