We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although software-as-a-service business Salesforce.com lost money for years while it grew recurring revenue, if you held shares since 2005, you'd have done very well indeed. 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.
So should Helios Energy (ASX:HE8) 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' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Helios Energy's Cash Runway?
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. In December 2021, Helios Energy had AU$27m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$5.3m. That means it had a cash runway of about 5.0 years as of December 2021. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Helios Energy's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
In our view, Helios Energy doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just AU$16k 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. With the cash burn rate up 36% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Helios Energy 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 Helios Energy Raise More Cash Easily?
While Helios Energy 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. 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$214m, Helios Energy's AU$5.3m in cash burn equates to about 2.5% of its market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
How Risky Is Helios Energy's Cash Burn Situation?
It may already be apparent to you that we're relatively comfortable with the way Helios Energy is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash runway suggests that the company is on a good path. While its increasing cash burn wasn't great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. Taking an in-depth view of risks, we've identified 3 warning signs for Helios Energy that you should be aware of before investing.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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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.
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