Companies Like Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) Can Afford To Invest In Growth

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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

So, the natural question for Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of cash burn. 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). Let’s start with an examination of the business’s cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Slack Technologies

Does Slack Technologies Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company’s cash runway is the amount of time it would take to burn through its cash reserves at its current cash burn rate. When Slack Technologies last reported its balance sheet in July 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$785m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$119m. So it had a cash runway of about 6.6 years from July 2019. Importantly, though, analysts think that Slack Technologies will reach cashflow breakeven before then. In that case, it may never reach the end of its cash runway. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

NYSE:WORK Historical Debt, September 20th 2019
NYSE:WORK Historical Debt, September 20th 2019

How Well Is Slack Technologies Growing?

Slack Technologies actually ramped up its cash burn by a whopping 50% in the last year, which shows it is boosting investment in the business. It seems likely that the vociferous operating revenue growth of 130% during that time may well have given management confidence to ramp investment. Considering the factors above, the company doesn’t fare badly when it comes to assessing how it is changing over time. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. So you might want to take a peek at how much the company is expected to grow in the next few years.

How Easily Can Slack Technologies Raise Cash?

There’s no doubt Slack Technologies seems to be in a fairly good position, when it comes to managing its cash burn, but even if it’s only hypothetical, it’s always worth asking how easily it could raise more money to fund growth. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. Many companies end up issuing new shares to fund future 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).

Slack Technologies has a market capitalisation of US$14b and burnt through US$119m last year, which is 0.8% of the company’s market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year’s growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.

How Risky Is Slack Technologies’s Cash Burn Situation?

It may already be apparent to you that we’re relatively comfortable with the way Slack Technologies is burning through its cash. In particular, we think its revenue growth stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. While its increasing cash burn wasn’t great, the other factors mentioned in this article more than make up for weakness on that measure. There’s no doubt that shareholders can take a lot of heart from the fact that analysts are forecasting it will reach breakeven before too long. After considering a range of factors in this article, we’re pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. 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: Slack Technologies insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Of course Slack Technologies 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.