There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, Sigma Lithium (CVE:SGML) shareholders have done very well over the last year, with the share price soaring by 394%. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So notwithstanding the buoyant share price, we think it's well worth asking whether Sigma Lithium's cash burn is too risky. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
How Long Is Sigma Lithium's Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. Sigma Lithium has such a small amount of debt that we'll set it aside, and focus on the CA$35m in cash it held at September 2021. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$15m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.4 years as of September 2021. Arguably, that's a prudent and sensible length of runway to have. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Sigma Lithium's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Sigma Lithium isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Its cash burn positively exploded in the last year, up 314%. With that kind of spending growth its cash runway will shorten quickly, as it simultaneously uses its cash while increasing the burn rate. 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 Hard Would It Be For Sigma Lithium To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Sigma Lithium shareholders may wish to consider how easily it could raise more cash, despite its solid cash runway. 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 looking at a company's cash burn relative to its market capitalisation, we gain insight on how much shareholders would be diluted if the company needed to raise enough cash to cover another year's cash burn.
Sigma Lithium has a market capitalisation of CA$1.0b and burnt through CA$15m last year, which is 1.4% of the company's market value. That means it could easily issue a few shares to fund more growth, and might well be in a position to borrow cheaply.
How Risky Is Sigma Lithium's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Sigma Lithium's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Based on the factors mentioned in this article, we think its cash burn situation warrants some attention from shareholders, but we don't think they should be worried. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 3 warning signs for Sigma Lithium you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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