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Here's Why We're Watching Emmerson's (LON:EML) Cash Burn Situation

Simply Wall St
·4-min read

There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. 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.

So should Emmerson (LON:EML) 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'. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

Check out our latest analysis for Emmerson

When Might Emmerson Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When Emmerson last reported its balance sheet in December 2019, it had zero debt and cash worth UK£2.1m. Importantly, its cash burn was UK£3.4m over the trailing twelve months. So it had a cash runway of approximately 7 months from December 2019. To be frank, this kind of short runway puts us on edge, as it indicates the company must reduce its cash burn significantly, or else raise cash imminently. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

LSE:EML Historical Debt May 3rd 2020
LSE:EML Historical Debt May 3rd 2020

How Is Emmerson's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Because Emmerson isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage business. Nonetheless, we can still examine its cash burn trajectory as part of our assessment of its cash burn situation. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by 40%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Emmerson due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.

Can Emmerson Raise More Cash Easily?

Given its cash burn trajectory, Emmerson shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further cash in the future. 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 to fund growth. By comparing a company's annual cash burn to its total market capitalisation, we can estimate roughly how many shares it would have to issue in order to run the company for another year (at the same burn rate).

Since it has a market capitalisation of UK£29m, Emmerson's UK£3.4m in cash burn equates to about 12% of its market value. As a result, we'd venture that the company could raise more cash for growth without much trouble, albeit at the cost of some dilution.

How Risky Is Emmerson's Cash Burn Situation?

Even though its cash runway makes us a little nervous, we are compelled to mention that we thought Emmerson's cash burn relative to its market cap was relatively promising. Looking at the factors mentioned in this short report, we do think that its cash burn is a bit risky, and it does make us slightly nervous about the stock. On another note, we conducted an in-depth investigation of the company, and identified 6 warning signs for Emmerson (3 make us uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.