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We Think Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

Simply Wall St

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, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. 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 Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT) shareholders should 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

View our latest analysis for Impact Minerals

When Might Impact Minerals Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In June 2019, Impact Minerals had AU$2.0m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$2.3m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 10 months from June 2019. 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.

ASX:IPT Historical Debt, November 13th 2019

How Is Impact Minerals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In our view, Impact Minerals doesn't yet produce significant amounts of operating revenue, since it reported just AU$45k 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. Given the length of the cash runway, we'd interpret the 48% reduction in cash burn, in twelve months, as prudent if not necessary for capital preservation. Impact Minerals makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

Can Impact Minerals Raise More Cash Easily?

Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Impact Minerals to raise more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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 AU$11m, Impact Minerals's AU$2.3m in cash burn equates to about 22% of its market value. That's fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year's operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

How Risky Is Impact Minerals's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of Impact Minerals's cash burn, we think its cash burn reduction was reassuring, while its cash runway has us a bit worried. 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. While we always like to monitor cash burn for early stage companies, qualitative factors such as the CEO pay can also shed light on the situation. Click here to see free what the Impact Minerals CEO is paid..

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)

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.