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 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 the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.
Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Spectral Medical (TSE:EDT) 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
Does Spectral Medical 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. As at September 2020, Spectral Medical had cash of CA$7.6m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through CA$283k. So it had a very long cash runway of many years from September 2020. Even though this is but one measure of the company's cash burn, the thought of such a long cash runway warms our bellies in a comforting way. You can see how its cash balance has changed over time in the image below.
How Well Is Spectral Medical Growing?
Notably, Spectral Medical actually ramped up its cash burn very hard and fast in the last year, by 184%, signifying heavy investment in the business. While that's concerning on it's own, the fact that operating revenue was actually down 42% over the same period makes us positively tremulous. Considering these two factors together makes us nervous about the direction the company seems to be heading. 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 Spectral Medical To Raise More Cash For Growth?
While Spectral Medical seems to be in a fairly good position, it's still worth considering how easily it could raise more cash, even just to fuel faster growth. 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 and fund 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.
Spectral Medical has a market capitalisation of CA$96m and burnt through CA$283k last year, which is 0.3% of the company's market value. So it could almost certainly just borrow a little to fund another year's growth, or else easily raise the cash by issuing a few shares.
How Risky Is Spectral Medical's Cash Burn Situation?
On this analysis of Spectral Medical's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Considering all the factors discussed in this article, we're not overly concerned about the company's cash burn, although we do think shareholders should keep an eye on how it develops. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 4 warning signs for Spectral Medical that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of companies insiders are buying, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
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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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