There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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 the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
So, the natural question for Lefroy Exploration (ASX:LEX) 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.
Does Lefroy Exploration Have A Long 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. In December 2019, Lefroy Exploration had AU$2.4m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$2.7m. That means it had a cash runway of around 11 months as of December 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.
How Is Lefroy Exploration's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Although Lefroy Exploration reported revenue of AU$21k last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. To us, that makes it a pre-revenue company, so we'll look to its cash burn trajectory as an assessment of its cash burn situation. As it happens, the company's cash burn reduced by 2.4% over the last year, which suggests that management may be mindful of the risks of their depleting cash reserves. Lefroy Exploration 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.
How Easily Can Lefroy Exploration Raise Cash?
While Lefroy Exploration 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. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash and fund 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$28m, Lefroy Exploration's AU$2.7m in cash burn equates to about 9.4% of its 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.
How Risky Is Lefroy Exploration's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Lefroy Exploration's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap 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. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 6 warning signs for Lefroy Exploration (of which 2 don't sit too well with us!) you should know about.
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)
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.
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