Cash Flow the Easy Way: Analysis

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Analyze Cash Flow The Easy Way
January 17 2007 | Filed Under » Stocks If you believe in the old adage, "it takes money to make money," then you can grasp the essence of cash flow and what it means to a company. The statement of cash flows reveals how a company spends its money (cash outflows) and where the money comes from (cash inflows). (To read more about cash flow statements, see What Is A Cash Flow Statement?, Operating Cash Flow: Better Than Net Income? and The Essentials Of Cash Flow.)

We know that a company's profitability, as shown by its net income, is an important investment evaluator. It would be nice to be able to think of this net income figure as a quick and easy way to judge a company's overall performance. However, although accrual accounting provides a basis for matching revenues and expenses, this system does not actually reflect the amount the company has received from the profits illustrated in this system. This can be a vital distinction. In this article, we'll explain what the cash flow statement can tell you and show you where to look to find this information.

Difference Between Earnings and Cash
In an August 1995 article in Individual Investor, Jonathan Moreland provides a very succinct assessment of the difference between earnings and cash. He says "at least as important as a company's profitability is its liquidity - whether or not it's taking in enough money to meet its obligations. Companies, after all, go bankrupt because they cannot pay their bills, not because they are unprofitable. Now, that's an obvious point. Even so, many investors routinely ignore it. How? By looking only at a firm's income statement and not the cash flow statement."

The Statement of Cash Flows
Cash flow statements have three distinct sections, each of which relates to a particular component - operations, investing and financing - of a company's business activities. For...
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