We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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 while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Liberty Gold (TSE:LGD) shareholders should be worried about its 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’.
When Might Liberty Gold 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. As at June 2022, Liberty Gold had cash of US$27m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$27m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from June 2022 it had roughly 12 months of cash runway. Importantly, analysts think that Liberty Gold will reach cashflow breakeven in around 13 months. That means it doesn’t have a great deal of breathing room, but it shouldn’t really need more cash, considering that cash burn should be continually reducing. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Liberty Gold’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Liberty Gold 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 59%. 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 Easily Can Liberty Gold Raise Cash?
Since its cash burn is moving in the wrong direction, Liberty Gold shareholders may wish to think 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. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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.
Liberty Gold has a market capitalisation of US$103m and burnt through US$27m last year, which is 27% 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.
Is Liberty Gold’s Cash Burn A Worry?
We must admit that we don’t think Liberty Gold is in a very strong position, when it comes to its cash burn. While its cash runway wasn’t too bad, its increasing cash burn does leave us rather nervous. It’s clearly very positive to see that analysts are forecasting the company will break even fairly soon. While we’re the kind of investors who are always a bit concerned about the risks involved with cash burning companies, the metrics we have discussed in this article leave us relatively comfortable about Liberty Gold’s situation. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 4 warning signs for Liberty Gold (of which 1 doesn’t sit too well with us!) you should know about.
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)
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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.
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