Will Focus Minerals (ASX:FML) Spend Its Cash Wisely?

Even when a business is losing money, it’s possible for shareholders to make money if they buy a good business at the right price. 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. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.

Given this risk, we thought we’d take a look at whether Focus Minerals (ASX:FML) 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. Let’s start with an examination of the business’s cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Focus Minerals

Does Focus Minerals 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 Focus Minerals last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth AU$18m. Importantly, its cash burn was AU$18m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 12 months as of June 2019. That’s not too bad, but it’s fair to say the end of the cash runway is in sight, unless cash burn reduces drastically. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.

ASX:FML Historical Debt, January 20th 2020
ASX:FML Historical Debt, January 20th 2020

How Is Focus Minerals’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

In the last year, Focus Minerals did book revenue of AU$1.6m, but its revenue from operations was less, at just AU$1.1m. We don’t think that’s enough operating revenue for us to understand too much from revenue growth rates, since the company is growing off a low base. So we’ll focus on the cash burn, today. The skyrocketing cash burn up 127% year on year certainly tests our nerves. It’s fair to say that sort of rate of increase cannot be maintained for very long, without putting pressure on the balance sheet. Admittedly, we’re a bit cautious of Focus Minerals due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

How Easily Can Focus Minerals Raise Cash?

While Focus Minerals 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 to drive 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of AU$45m, Focus Minerals’s AU$18m in cash burn equates to about 39% of its market value. That’s fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year’s operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

How Risky Is Focus Minerals’s Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its increasing cash burn makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Focus Minerals’s cash runway was relatively promising. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we’d be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. While we always like to monitor cash burn for early stage companies, qualitative factors such as the CEO pay can also shed light on the situation. Click here to see free what the Focus Minerals CEO is paid..

If you would prefer to check out another company with better fundamentals, then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt or this list of stocks which are all forecast to grow.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.