Easy Come, Easy Go: How AuStar Gold (ASX:AUL) Shareholders Got Unlucky And Saw 82% Of Their Cash Evaporate

Some stocks are best avoided. We really hate to see fellow investors lose their hard-earned money. Anyone who held AuStar Gold Limited (ASX:AUL) for five years would be nursing their metaphorical wounds since the share price dropped 82% in that time. And we doubt long term believers are the only worried holders, since the stock price has declined 43% over the last twelve months. And the share price decline continued over the last week, dropping some 20%.

While a drop like that is definitely a body blow, money isn’t as important as health and happiness.

Check out our latest analysis for AuStar Gold

We don’t think AuStar Gold’s revenue of AU$390,440 is enough to establish significant demand. This state of affairs suggests that venture capitalists won’t provide funds on attractive terms. So it seems that the investors more focused on would could be, than paying attention to the current revenues (or lack thereof). For example, investors may be hoping that AuStar Gold finds some valuable resources, before it runs out of money.

Companies that lack both meaningful revenue and profits are usually considered high risk. You should be aware that there is always a chance that this sort of company will need to issue more shares to raise money to continue pursuing its business plan. While some such companies do very well over the long term, others become hyped up by promoters before eventually falling back down to earth, and going bankrupt (or being recapitalized). Some AuStar Gold investors have already had a taste of the bitterness stocks like this can leave in the mouth.

When it reported in December 2018 AuStar Gold had minimal net cash consider its expenditure: just AU$1.9m to be specific. So if it has not already moved to replenish reserves, we think the near-term chances of a capital raising event are pretty high. That probably explains why the share price is down 29% per year, over 5 years. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how AuStar Gold’s cash and debt levels have changed over time.

ASX:AUL Historical Debt, March 22nd 2019
ASX:AUL Historical Debt, March 22nd 2019

Of course, the truth is that it is hard to value companies without much revenue or profit. What if insiders are ditching the stock hand over fist? It would bother me, that’s for sure. It costs nothing but a moment of your time to see if we are picking up on any insider selling.

A Different Perspective

AuStar Gold shareholders are down 43% for the year, but the market itself is up 7.5%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Regrettably, last year’s performance caps off a bad run, with the shareholders facing a total loss of 29% per year over five years. We realise that Buffett has said investors should ‘buy when there is blood on the streets’, but we caution that investors should first be sure they are buying a high quality businesses. Shareholders might want to examine this detailed historical graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on AU exchanges.

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.