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We Think Santa Fe Minerals (ASX:SFM) Can Afford To Drive Business Growth

Simply Wall St

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So should Santa Fe Minerals (ASX:SFM) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

Check out our latest analysis for Santa Fe Minerals

Does Santa Fe Minerals Have A Long 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 June 2019, Santa Fe Minerals had AU$4.8m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was AU$953k over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of about 5.0 years from June 2019. 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. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

ASX:SFM Historical Debt, October 18th 2019

How Is Santa Fe Minerals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Santa Fe Minerals isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. While it hardly paints a picture of imminent growth, the fact that it has reduced its cash burn by 35% over the last year suggests some degree of prudence. Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe Minerals Raise More Cash Easily?

While Santa Fe 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 to drive 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$6.6m, Santa Fe Minerals's AU$953k in cash burn equates to about 15% of its market value. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.

Is Santa Fe Minerals's Cash Burn A Worry?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Santa Fe Minerals's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. And even though its cash burn relative to its market cap wasn't quite as impressive, it was still a positive. Looking at all the measures in this article, together, we're not worried about its rate of cash burn; the company seems well on top of its medium-term spending needs. When you don't have traditional metrics like earnings per share and free cash flow to value a company, many are extra motivated to consider qualitative factors such as whether insiders are buying or selling shares. Please Note: Santa Fe Minerals insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

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.