We Think ClearSign Technologies (NASDAQ:CLIR) Needs To Drive Business Growth Carefully

There’s no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.

So should ClearSign Technologies (NASDAQ:CLIR) shareholders 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’. We’ll start by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves in order to calculate its cash runway.

See our latest analysis for ClearSign Technologies

How Long Is ClearSign Technologies’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, ClearSign Technologies had cash of US$10m and no debt. Importantly, its cash burn was US$8.0m over the trailing twelve months. Therefore, from September 2019 it had roughly 15 months of cash runway. 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.

NasdaqCM:CLIR Historical Debt, December 7th 2019
NasdaqCM:CLIR Historical Debt, December 7th 2019

How Is ClearSign Technologies’s Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

ClearSign Technologies didn’t record any revenue over the last year, indicating that it’s an early stage company still developing its business. So while we can’t look to sales to understand growth, we can look at how the cash burn is changing to understand how expenditure is trending over time. With cash burn dropping by 11% it seems management feel the company is spending enough to advance its business plans at an appropriate pace. ClearSign Technologies makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

Can ClearSign Technologies Raise More Cash Easily?

Even though it has reduced its cash burn recently, shareholders should still consider how easy it would be for ClearSign Technologies to raise more cash in the future. Companies can raise capital through either debt or equity. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash to drive 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.

ClearSign Technologies has a market capitalisation of US$24m and burnt through US$8.0m last year, which is 33% of the company’s market value. That’s fairly notable cash burn, so if the company had to sell shares to cover the cost of another year’s operations, shareholders would suffer some costly dilution.

So, Should We Worry About ClearSign Technologies’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 ClearSign Technologies’s cash runway was relatively promising. We don’t think its cash burn is particularly problematic, but after considering the range of factors in this article, we do think shareholders should be monitoring how it changes over time. While it’s important to consider hard data like the metrics discussed above, many investors would also be interested to note that ClearSign Technologies 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.