Companies Like Metalsearch (ASX:MSE) Are In A Position To Invest In Growth

Simply Wall St

Just because a business does not make any money, does not mean that the stock will go down. 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 Metalsearch (ASX:MSE) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? In this article, we define cash burn as its annual (negative) free cash flow, which is the amount of money a company spends each year to fund its growth. Let's start with an examination of the business's cash, relative to its cash burn.

See our latest analysis for Metalsearch

Does Metalsearch Have A Long Cash Runway?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. As at December 2019, Metalsearch had cash of AU$2.6m and no debt. Looking at the last year, the company burnt through AU$1.2m. That means it had a cash runway of about 2.1 years as of December 2019. That's decent, giving the company a couple years to develop its business. Depicted below, you can see how its cash holdings have changed over time.

ASX:MSE Historical Debt April 5th 2020

How Is Metalsearch's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that Metalsearch has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced AU$260, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. As a result, we think it's a bit early to focus on the revenue growth, so we'll limit ourselves to looking at how the cash burn is changing over time. With the cash burn rate up 7.2% in the last year, it seems that the company is ratcheting up investment in the business over time. However, the company's true cash runway will therefore be shorter than suggested above, if spending continues to increase. Metalsearch 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.

How Easily Can Metalsearch Raise Cash?

Since its cash burn is increasing (albeit only slightly), Metalsearch shareholders should still be mindful of the possibility it will require 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 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).

Metalsearch's cash burn of AU$1.2m is about 19% of its AU$6.5m market capitalisation. 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.

Is Metalsearch's Cash Burn A Worry?

On this analysis of Metalsearch's cash burn, we think its cash runway was reassuring, while its increasing cash burn has us a bit worried. Cash burning companies are always on the riskier side of things, but after considering all of the factors discussed in this short piece, we're not too worried about its rate of cash burn. Separately, we looked at different risks affecting the company and spotted 5 warning signs for Metalsearch (of which 3 don't sit too well with us!) you should know about.

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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