Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. 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 Tlou Energy (ASX:TOU) 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. Let's start with an examination of the business' cash, relative to its cash burn.
When Might Tlou Energy Run Out Of Money?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In December 2020, Tlou Energy had AU$3.0m in cash, and was debt-free. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$2.7m. That means it had a cash runway of around 13 months as of December 2020. 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. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Tlou Energy's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Although Tlou Energy reported revenue of AU$50k last year, it didn't actually have any revenue from operations. To us, that makes it a pre-revenue company, so we'll look to its cash burn trajectory as an assessment of its cash burn situation. The 58% reduction in its cash burn over the last twelve months may be good for protecting the balance sheet but it hardly points to imminent growth. Tlou Energy makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
How Easily Can Tlou Energy Raise Cash?
While we're comforted by the recent reduction evident from our analysis of Tlou Energy's cash burn, it is still worth considering how easily the company could raise more funds, if it wanted to accelerate spending to drive 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).
Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$28m, Tlou Energy's AU$2.7m in cash burn equates to about 9.8% of its 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.
So, Should We Worry About Tlou Energy's Cash Burn?
Tlou Energy appears to be in pretty good health when it comes to its cash burn situation. One the one hand we have its solid cash burn relative to its market cap, while on the other it can also boast very strong cash burn reduction. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 5 warning signs for Tlou Energy (of which 3 are concerning!) you should know about.
Of course Tlou Energy 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.
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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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