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We're Hopeful That Research Frontiers (NASDAQ:REFR) Will Use Its Cash Wisely

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·4 min read
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Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

So should Research Frontiers (NASDAQ:REFR) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

Check out our latest analysis for Research Frontiers

When Might Research Frontiers Run Out Of Money?

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 March 2021, Research Frontiers had US$4.2m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was US$2.2m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 23 months from March 2021. While that cash runway isn't too concerning, sensible holders would be peering into the distance, and considering what happens if the company runs out of cash. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is Research Frontiers' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Research Frontiers has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$685k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. 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. Cash burn was pretty flat over the last year, which suggests that management are holding spending steady while the business advances its strategy. Research Frontiers 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.

How Hard Would It Be For Research Frontiers To Raise More Cash For Growth?

While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, Research Frontiers shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and 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.

Research Frontiers has a market capitalisation of US$66m and burnt through US$2.2m last year, which is 3.3% of the company's 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.

Is Research Frontiers' Cash Burn A Worry?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Research Frontiers' cash burn. For example, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap suggests that the company is on a good path. Although its increasing cash burn does give us reason for pause, the other metrics we discussed in this article form a positive picture overall. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don't think they should be worried. On another note, Research Frontiers has 3 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.