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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So should Slam Exploration (CVE:SXL) shareholders be worried about its 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). Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.
When Might Slam Exploration Run Out Of Money?
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. As at October 2019, Slam Exploration had cash of CA$112k and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$204k. That means it had a cash runway of around 7 months as of October 2019. 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.
How Is Slam Exploration's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Slam Exploration 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. The 72% reduction in its cash burn over the last twelve months could be interpreted as a sign that management are worried about running out of cash. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Slam Exploration due to its lack of significant operating revenues. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
Can Slam Exploration Raise More Cash Easily?
While we're comforted by the recent reduction evident from our analysis of Slam Exploration's cash burn, it is still worth considering how easily the company could raise more funds, if it wanted to accelerate spending to drive growth. 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.
Slam Exploration has a market capitalisation of CA$610k and burnt through CA$204k last year, which is 33% 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.
How Risky Is Slam Exploration's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Slam Exploration's cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash runway has us a bit worried. 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. Readers need to have a sound understanding of business risks before investing in a stock, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Slam Exploration that potential shareholders should take into account before putting money into a stock.
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)
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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. 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. Thank you for reading.