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.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSE:NDM) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. We'll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.
How Long Is Northern Dynasty Minerals' 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. When Northern Dynasty Minerals last reported its balance sheet in March 2022, it had zero debt and cash worth CA$18m. Importantly, its cash burn was CA$30m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 7 months from March 2022. 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. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Northern Dynasty Minerals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Northern Dynasty Minerals 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. Given the length of the cash runway, we'd interpret the 44% reduction in cash burn, in twelve months, as prudent if not necessary for capital preservation. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Northern Dynasty Minerals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Northern Dynasty Minerals is showing a solid reduction in its cash burn, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and 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 CA$170m, Northern Dynasty Minerals' CA$30m in cash burn equates to about 18% of its market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.
Is Northern Dynasty Minerals' Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Northern Dynasty Minerals' cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash runway has us a bit worried. 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. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 4 warning signs for Northern Dynasty Minerals (2 are significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.