We can readily understand why investors are attracted to unprofitable companies. 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. Nonetheless, only a fool would ignore the risk that a loss making company burns through its cash too quickly.
So, the natural question for Platinum Group Metals (TSE:PTM) shareholders is whether they should be concerned by its rate of 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' cash, relative to its cash burn.
How Long Is Platinum Group Metals' Cash Runway?
A cash runway is defined as the length of time it would take a company to run out of money if it kept spending at its current rate of cash burn. When Platinum Group Metals last reported its balance sheet in February 2022, it had zero debt and cash worth US$9.6m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$10m. So it had a cash runway of approximately 11 months from February 2022. 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. The image below shows how its cash balance has been changing over the last few years.
How Is Platinum Group Metals' Cash Burn Changing Over Time?
Because Platinum Group Metals 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 48%, which suggests that management are increasing investment in future growth, but not too quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but investors should be mindful of the fact that will shorten the cash runway. Admittedly, we're a bit cautious of Platinum Group Metals due to its lack of significant operating revenues. We prefer most of the stocks on this list of stocks that analysts expect to grow.
How Hard Would It Be For Platinum Group Metals To Raise More Cash For Growth?
Since its cash burn is moving in the wrong direction, Platinum Group Metals shareholders may wish to think ahead to when the company may need to raise more cash. Issuing new shares, or taking on debt, are the most common ways for a listed company to raise more money for its business. Commonly, a business will sell new shares in itself to raise cash and drive 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 US$169m, Platinum Group Metals' US$10m in cash burn equates to about 6.0% of its market value. Given that is a rather small percentage, it would probably be really easy for the company to fund another year's growth by issuing some new shares to investors, or even by taking out a loan.
Is Platinum Group Metals' Cash Burn A Worry?
On this analysis of Platinum Group Metals' cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Even though we don't think it has a problem with its cash burn, the analysis we've done in this article does suggest that shareholders should give some careful thought to the potential cost of raising more money in the future. On another note, Platinum Group Metals has 5 warning signs (and 2 which are concerning) we think you should know about.
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. 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.