Here’s Why We’re Watching Los Andes Copper’s (CVE:LA) Cash Burn Situation

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should Los Andes Copper (CVE:LA) shareholders be worried about its 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). First, we’ll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

View our latest analysis for Los Andes Copper

Does Los Andes Copper Have A Long Cash Runway?

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. When Los Andes Copper last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth CA$2.3m. Importantly, its cash burn was CA$5.4m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 5 months from June 2019. With a cash runway that short, we strongly believe that the company must raise cash or else douse its cash burn promptly. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

TSXV:LA Historical Debt, September 17th 2019
TSXV:LA Historical Debt, September 17th 2019

How Is Los Andes Copper’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Los Andes Copper isn’t currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 5.3%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company’s true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Los Andes Copper makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. So we’d generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.

How Hard Would It Be For Los Andes Copper To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Los Andes Copper shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. One of the main advantages held by publicly listed companies is that they can sell shares to investors to raise cash to fund 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.

Los Andes Copper’s cash burn of CA$5.4m is about 4.7% of its CA$114m market capitalisation. That’s a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

So, Should We Worry About Los Andes Copper’s Cash Burn?

On this analysis of Los Andes Copper’s cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its cash runway has us a bit worried. Summing up, we think the Los Andes Copper’s cash burn is a risk, based on the factors we mentioned in this article. 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: Los Andes Copper insiders have been trading shares, according to our data. Click here to check whether insiders have been buying or selling.

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.

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.