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 history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So, the natural question for Soliton (NASDAQ:SOLY) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
When Might Soliton Run Out Of Money?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. As at December 2019, Soliton had cash of US$12m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$11m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 12 months as of December 2019. That's not too bad, but it's fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Soliton's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Soliton 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. In fact, it ramped its spending strongly over the last year, increasing cash burn by 147%. 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.
Can Soliton Raise More Cash Easily?
While Soliton does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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 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).
Soliton's cash burn of US$11m is about 6.8% of its US$168m market capitalisation. 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 Soliton's Cash Burn?
Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Soliton's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. 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. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 5 warning signs for Soliton you should be aware of, and 3 of them are a bit unpleasant.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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