We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?
So should Borders & Southern Petroleum (LON:BOR) shareholders 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. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
When Might Borders & Southern Petroleum Run Out Of Money?
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 Borders & Southern Petroleum last reported its balance sheet in June 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth US$4.4m. Importantly, its cash burn was US$2.2m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.0 years 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. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Borders & Southern Petroleum's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Borders & Southern Petroleum didn't record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it's an early stage company still developing its business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Cash burn was pretty flat over the last year, which suggests that management are holding spending steady while the business advances its strategy. Clearly, however, the crucial factor is whether the company will grow its business going forward. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.
How Hard Would It Be For Borders & Southern Petroleum To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for Borders & Southern Petroleum to raise more cash in the future. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. 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.
Borders & Southern Petroleum has a market capitalisation of US$9.6m and burnt through US$2.2m last year, which is 23% of the company's market value. That's not insignificant, and if the company had to sell enough shares to fund another year's growth at the current share price, you'd likely witness fairly costly dilution.
So, Should We Worry About Borders & Southern Petroleum's Cash Burn?
Even though its cash burn relative to its market cap makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Borders & Southern Petroleum's cash runway was relatively promising. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. For us, it's always important to consider risks around cash burn rates. But investors should look at a whole range of factors when researching a new stock. For example, it could be interesting to see how much the Borders & Southern Petroleum CEO receives in total remuneration.
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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