In this lesson we'll take a look at another key area of the financial statements to consider in your fundamental analysis, the cash flow statement.
This is a record of the cash generated and used by a company. Unlike the balance sheet, which is a snapshot of a particular point in time, the cash flow statement covers a certain period specified by the company.
You'll usually see data listed under the following categories:
Cash from operations
The money generated by the company's normal business operations is shown here. Sometimes it may be further broken down into:
The figure is significant because it can indicate whether the company is able to make enough money to maintain and develop its operations, or if it has to rely on external financing.
Cash from investing
This reports the company's sales or purchases of long-term investments, property and equipment.
Cash from financing
Here you'll see details of the company's corporate bonds and shares that have been issued or repurchased. Dividend payments to shareholders will also be listed.
So what can we learn from these figures? Well, as the saying goes, 'cash is king'. Many analysts feel that cash in the bank is an important asset, particularly because it's something that can't be faked by clever accounting.
The bottom line is that if a company is consistently generating more money than it's using, it will potentially be able to do a number of useful things with the surplus, such as:
A company might choose to repurchase shares for a variety of reasons:
You might want to compare cash from operations with net income (discussed in the next lesson). If the cash figure is higher, the company can be said to have high quality earnings. In other words, a substantial proportion of the earnings from the business is being turned into cash.
On the other hand, if cash from operations is dwarfed by net income, you might compare the company to a friend who takes home a generous salary each month yet never seems to have the cash to buy a pint. Where is all that money going to, and why? Unless there's a valid reason for the difference, it may imply that the company is operating inefficiently.