When a new company is started, its assets, aside from the persons with the great ideas, are the capital (money) that the founders contributed to the start-up. Some of the money may be used to purchase tools and other equipment to make the product, ship the product, salaries, etc.
If the idea is good and the company grows, the company needs more equipment, more money for salaries, more employees to help with manufacturing, assembly, sales and shipping. The original owners decide that they will invite new owners to invest their money, as well, in return for a share of the company and its eventual earnings. They do so by offering to sell shares of the stock in the company. This may be done privately, say offering shares to the owners’ friends and relatives, or publicly, on a stock exchange. This is known as a new offering or “going public.”
When the shares of stock are sold, the company may have now many millions of dollars in paid-in capital (money) with which to expand and, in the case of most start-ups, lose money for a few years.
As well, the start-up company may find that their need for cash to pay bills today can’t be met completely if there are no profits. The start-up company may go to a bank for a loan, often a revolving line of credit.
The start-up may sell corporate bonds. For example, the investor pays $100,000 for a ten-year 5% bond. At the end of every year, the investor receives $5,000 in interest until year ten when he receives $5,000 plus his original $100,000.
At the end of the year, when sales are tallied up, often, in start-ups, the expense of creating the product exceeds the amount collected for it; that is, there is a loss. Start-ups are typically very inefficient. They buy everything at retail, they aren’t in a position to negotiate better prices for raw materials, they have a few wrong people in the wrong place. It takes a few years for sales to grow and efficiency to reduce the cost of goods sold.
When there is a loss, the start-up can dip into paid-in capital, cash from the sale of bonds, borrow against the line of credit, or all three.
Now, why, when the company reports a loss, does the price of the stock actually go up, in some cases?
Perhaps the loss is a great deal less than predicted and investors believe that the company is about to turn the corner to profits. Perhaps the loss is only a tiny bit less than expected and the investors think that the company isn’t as bad as they thought it was and are now willing to pay a few cents a share more for a start-up with long-range promise.
Perhaps the investors listened to the chairman’s remarks at the annual meeting, either in person or by conference call, and the chairman had reassuring comments about the company’s bright future.