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We Think SilverCrest Metals (TSE:SIL) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

Simply Wall St

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. Indeed, SilverCrest Metals (TSE:SIL) stock is up 143% in the last year, providing strong gains for shareholders. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

Given its strong share price performance, we think it's worthwhile for SilverCrest Metals shareholders to consider whether its cash burn is concerning. 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). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

Check out our latest analysis for SilverCrest Metals

When Might SilverCrest Metals Run Out Of Money?

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, SilverCrest Metals had CA$26m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was CA$32m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from June 2019 it had roughly 10 months of cash runway. Notably, analysts forecast that SilverCrest Metals will break even (at a free cash flow level) in about 3 years. That means unless the company reduces its cash burn quickly, it may well look to raise more cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

TSX:SIL Historical Debt, November 13th 2019

How Is SilverCrest Metals's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

SilverCrest Metals 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. During the last twelve months, its cash burn actually ramped up 81%. Oftentimes, increased cash burn simply means a company is accelerating its business development, but one should always be mindful that this causes the cash runway to shrink. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

How Hard Would It Be For SilverCrest Metals To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its cash burn trajectory, SilverCrest Metals shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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.

SilverCrest Metals has a market capitalisation of CA$695m and burnt through CA$32m last year, which is 4.6% of the company's market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About SilverCrest Metals's Cash Burn?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought SilverCrest Metals's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. One real positive is that analysts are forecasting that the company will reach breakeven. We don't think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. 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: SilverCrest Metals insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course SilverCrest Metals may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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.