We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. 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.
So, the natural question for Gateway Mining (ASX:GML) 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. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.
How Long Is Gateway Mining's 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 2021, Gateway Mining had AU$6.2m in cash, and was debt-free. In the last year, its cash burn was AU$6.3m. That means it had a cash runway of around 12 months as of December 2021. 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. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Gateway Mining's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Gateway Mining 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 34%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Gateway Mining due to its lack of significant operating revenues. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
How Easily Can Gateway Mining Raise Cash?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Gateway Mining 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. 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.
Gateway Mining has a market capitalisation of AU$32m and burnt through AU$6.3m last year, which is 20% of the company's market value. Given that situation, it's fair to say the company wouldn't have much trouble raising more cash for growth, but shareholders would be somewhat diluted.
Is Gateway Mining's Cash Burn A Worry?
Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Gateway Mining's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 4 warning signs for Gateway Mining (of which 2 are a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.
If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.