We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So, the natural question for Highbury Projects (CVE:HPI) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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.
How Long Is Highbury Projects's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Highbury Projects last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth CA$48k. In the last year, its cash burn was CA$111k. So it had a cash runway of approximately 5 months from June 2019. With a cash runway that short, we strongly believe that the company must raise cash or else douse its cash burn promptly. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Highbury Projects's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Highbury Projects isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 6.2%, 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. Highbury Projects makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
Can Highbury Projects Raise More Cash Easily?
Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Highbury Projects shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more 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. 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.
Highbury Projects has a market capitalisation of CA$2.9m and burnt through CA$111k last year, which is 3.9% of the company's 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.
Is Highbury Projects's Cash Burn A Worry?
Even though its cash runway makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Highbury Projects's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. For us, it's always important to consider risks around cash burn rates. But investors should look at a whole range of factors when researching a new stock. For example, it could be interesting to see how much the Highbury Projects CEO receives in total remuneration.
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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