We Think Fuel Tech (NASDAQ:FTEK) Can Afford To Drive Business Growth

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 27, 2020

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But the harsh reality is that very many loss making companies burn through all their cash and go bankrupt.

Given this risk, we thought we'd take a look at whether Fuel Tech (NASDAQ:FTEK) shareholders should be worried about its cash burn. In this report, we will consider the company's annual negative free cash flow, henceforth referring to it as the 'cash burn'. The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its 'cash runway'.

See our latest analysis for Fuel Tech

Does Fuel Tech 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 Fuel Tech last reported its balance sheet in March 2020, it had zero debt and cash worth US$8.0m. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through US$677k. That means it had a cash runway of very many years as of March 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. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.

NasdaqGS:FTEK Debt to Equity History July 27th 2020

Is Fuel Tech's Revenue Growing?

Given that Fuel Tech actually had positive free cash flow last year, before burning cash this year, we'll focus on its operating revenue to get a measure of the business trajectory. The grim reality for shareholders is that operating revenue fell by 55% over the last twelve months, which is not what we want to see in a cash burning company. 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 Fuel Tech To Raise More Cash For Growth?

Given its problematic fall in revenue, Fuel Tech shareholders should consider how the company could fund its growth, if it turns out it needs more cash. Generally speaking, a listed business can raise new cash through issuing shares or taking on debt. 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.

Fuel Tech's cash burn of US$677k is about 3.0% of its US$23m market capitalisation. 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.

So, Should We Worry About Fuel Tech's Cash Burn?

As you can probably tell by now, we're not too worried about Fuel Tech's cash burn. In particular, we think its cash runway stands out as evidence that the company is well on top of its spending. Although we do find its falling revenue to be a bit of a negative, once we consider the other metrics mentioned in this article together, the overall picture is one we are comfortable with. After taking into account the various metrics mentioned in this report, we're pretty comfortable with how the company is spending its cash, as it seems on track to meet its needs over the medium term. An in-depth examination of risks revealed 2 warning signs for Fuel Tech that readers should think about before committing capital to this stock.

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.

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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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