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There's no doubt that money can be made by owning shares of unprofitable businesses. For example, although Amazon.com made losses for many years after listing, if you had bought and held the shares since 1999, you would have made a fortune. Having said that, unprofitable companies are risky because they could potentially burn through all their cash and become distressed.
So should Mawson Gold (TSE:MAW) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purposes of this article, cash burn is the annual rate at which an unprofitable company spends cash to fund its growth; its negative free cash flow. First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.
How Long Is Mawson Gold's Cash Runway?
A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. In May 2021, Mawson Gold had CA$7.4m in cash, and was debt-free. Importantly, its cash burn was CA$12m over the trailing twelve months. That means it had a cash runway of around 7 months as of May 2021. That's quite a short cash runway, indicating the company must either reduce its annual cash burn or replenish its cash. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.
How Is Mawson Gold's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Mawson Gold isn't currently generating revenue, we consider it an early-stage 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. Over the last year its cash burn actually increased by a very significant 69%. While this spending increase is no doubt intended to drive growth, if the trend continues the company's cash runway will shrink very quickly. Mawson Gold makes us a little nervous due to its lack of substantial operating revenue. So we'd generally prefer stocks from this list of stocks that have analysts forecasting growth.
Can Mawson Gold Raise More Cash Easily?
Given its cash burn trajectory, Mawson Gold shareholders should already be thinking about how easy it might be for it to raise further 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 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).
Mawson Gold has a market capitalisation of CA$51m and burnt through CA$12m last year, which is 24% 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.
Is Mawson Gold's Cash Burn A Worry?
Mawson Gold is not in a great position when it comes to its cash burn situation. Although we can understand if some shareholders find its cash burn relative to its market cap acceptable, we can't ignore the fact that we consider its cash runway to be downright troublesome. Considering all the measures mentioned in this report, we reckon that its cash burn is fairly risky, and if we held shares we'd be watching like a hawk for any deterioration. On another note, Mawson Gold has 5 warning signs (and 3 which shouldn't be ignored) we think you should know about.
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies, and this list of stocks growth stocks (according to analyst forecasts)
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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