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Will 374Water (NASDAQ:SCWO) Spend Its Cash Wisely?

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 while the successes are well known, investors should not ignore the very many unprofitable companies that simply burn through all their cash and collapse.

So should 374Water (NASDAQ:SCWO) shareholders be worried about its cash burn? For the purpose of this article, we'll define cash burn as the amount of cash the company is spending each year to fund its growth (also called its negative free cash flow). First, we'll determine its cash runway by comparing its cash burn with its cash reserves.

View our latest analysis for 374Water

When Might 374Water Run Out Of Money?

A company's cash runway is calculated by dividing its cash hoard by its cash burn. When 374Water last reported its March 2024 balance sheet in May 2024, it had zero debt and cash worth US$7.9m. In the last year, its cash burn was US$8.5m. Therefore, from March 2024 it had roughly 11 months of cash runway. 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.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Is 374Water's Cash Burn Changing Over Time?

Whilst it's great to see that 374Water has already begun generating revenue from operations, last year it only produced US$258k, so we don't think it is generating significant revenue, at this point. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis we'll focus on how the cash burn is tracking. Cash burn was pretty flat over the last year, which suggests that management are holding spending steady while the business advances its strategy. While the past is always worth studying, it is the future that matters most of all. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at our analyst forecasts for the company.

Can 374Water Raise More Cash Easily?

While its cash burn is only increasing slightly, 374Water shareholders should still consider the potential need for further cash, down the track. 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 and fund 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.

374Water has a market capitalisation of US$154m and burnt through US$8.5m last year, which is 5.5% of the company's market value. That's a low proportion, so we figure the company would be able to raise more cash to fund growth, with a little dilution, or even to simply borrow some money.

How Risky Is 374Water's Cash Burn Situation?

On this analysis of 374Water's cash burn, we think its cash burn relative to its market cap was reassuring, while its cash runway 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. Taking a deeper dive, we've spotted 4 warning signs for 374Water you should be aware of, and 3 of them are potentially serious.

Of course 374Water may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks with high insider ownership.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com