Companies Like Rosetta Stone (NYSE:RST) Can Afford To Invest In Growth

We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. For example, biotech and mining exploration companies often lose money for years before finding success with a new treatment or mineral discovery. But while history lauds those rare successes, those that fail are often forgotten; who remembers Pets.com?

So should Rosetta Stone (NYSE:RST) 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). The first step is to compare its cash burn with its cash reserves, to give us its ‘cash runway’.

View our latest analysis for Rosetta Stone

How Long Is Rosetta Stone’s 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. As at September 2019, Rosetta Stone had cash of US$36m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$545k over the trailing twelve months. So it had a very long cash runway of many years from September 2019. 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.

NYSE:RST Historical Debt, January 8th 2020
NYSE:RST Historical Debt, January 8th 2020

How Well Is Rosetta Stone Growing?

Rosetta Stone managed to reduce its cash burn by 94% over the last twelve months, which is extremely promising, when it comes to considering its need for cash. And it could also show revenue growth of 3.9% in the same period. It seems to be growing nicely. 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 Easily Can Rosetta Stone Raise Cash?

We are certainly impressed with the progress Rosetta Stone has made over the last year, but it is also worth considering how costly it would be if it wanted to raise more cash to fund faster growth. 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 to 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.

Since it has a market capitalisation of US$459m, Rosetta Stone’s US$545k in cash burn equates to about 0.1% of its 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.

So, Should We Worry About Rosetta Stone’s Cash Burn?

It may already be apparent to you that we’re relatively comfortable with the way Rosetta Stone is burning through its cash. For example, we think its cash burn reduction suggests that the company is on a good path. On this analysis its revenue growth was its weakest feature, but we are not concerned about it. After considering a range of factors in this article, we’re pretty relaxed about its cash burn, since the company seems to be in a good position to continue to fund its growth. While it’s important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that Rosetta Stone insiders have been trading shares in the company. Click here to find out if they have been buying or selling.

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)

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.

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