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. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Lightbridge (NASDAQ:LTBR) shareholders should 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.
When Might Lightbridge 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. When Lightbridge last reported its balance sheet in September 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$17m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$8.3m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.1 years as of September 2020. That's decent, giving the company a couple years to develop its business. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Is Lightbridge's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Lightbridge 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 30%, 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 Lightbridge due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
Can Lightbridge Raise More Cash Easily?
While Lightbridge does have a solid cash runway, its cash burn trajectory may have some shareholders thinking ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. 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 and drive growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).
Lightbridge has a market capitalisation of US$21m and burnt through US$8.3m last year, which is 40% of the company's market value. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
So, Should We Worry About Lightbridge's Cash Burn?
Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Lightbridge's cash runway was relatively promising. 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. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 4 warning signs for Lightbridge (2 are concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, 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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