What is a Cash Flow Analysis?
The cash flow Analysis refers to the examination or analysis of the different inflows of the cash to the company and the outflow of the cash from the company during the period under consideration from the different activities which include operating activities, investing activities and financing activities.
IronMount Corp and BronzeMetal Corp (both hypothetical companies) had identical cash positions at the beginning and end of 2007. Each company also reported a net income of $225,000 for 2007. Which company is displaying elements of cash flow stress? What factors cause you to reach this conclusion?
Let’s say Company ABC has just started a business and earned revenue of $100 this year. And as per the record, their expenses are the $60. Now in general terms, you would say Company ABC has made a = $(100 – 60) = $40 profit. However, in the case of Company ABC, it’s seen that they have a revenue of $100 this year, but they have collected the only $80 this year and the remaining they will collect in the next year. In the case of expenses, they have only paid the US $50 this year and the remaining in the next year. So if we calculate the net cash inflow this year, it would be $(80 – 50) = $30.
So, even if Company ABC has made a profit of $40 this year, its net cash inflow is $30.
In Cash Flow Analysis, we will not only include the cash related to operations, but rather we will also include expenses and incomes from investing and financing activities.
Step by Step Cash Flow Statements Analysis
Cash Flow Analysis is divided into three parts – Cash flow from Operations, Cash flow from Investments, and Cash flow from financing. We discuss each of these one by one.
#1 – Cash flow from Operations
Cash flow from the operation means taking into account cash inflows generated from the normal business operations and its corresponding cash outflows.
There are two ways to calculate cash flow from operations – 1) Direct method and 2) Indirect method.
The indirect method is used in most of the cases.
Here we will look at only the indirect method for computing cash flow from Operations.
Computation of Cash Flow from Operations:
- Before you start thinking about cash flow statement analysis, have a look at the income statement first. Now start with net income.
- You need to add back non-cash expenses like depreciation, amortization, etc. The reason behind adding back non-cash expensesExpensesNon-cash expenses are those expenses recorded in the firm's income statement for the period under consideration; such costs are not paid or dealt with in cash by the firm. It involves expenses such as depreciation. is they are not actually expensed in cash (but in the record).
- This is the same with any sort of sale of assets. If there is any loss on the sale of assets, we need to add back, and if there is any gain on sale of assets, we need to deduct.
- And then we need to take into account any changes in non-current assetsNon-current AssetsNon-current assets are long-term assets bought to use in the business, and their benefits are likely to accrue for many years. These Assets reveal information about the company's investing activities and can be tangible or intangible. Examples include property, plant, equipment, land & building, bonds and stocks, patents, trademark..
- Finally, we need to include changes in current assets and current liabilities (in current liabilities, we shouldn’t include dividend payableDividend PayableDividend payable is that portion of accumulated profits that is declared to be paid as dividend by the company's board of directors. Until the dividend declared is paid to the concerned shareholders, the amount is recorded as a dividend payable in the head current liability. & notes payable.
Learn Cash Flow from Operations in detail – Cash Flow from OperationsCash Flow From OperationsCash flow from Operations is the first of the three parts of the cash flow statement that shows the cash inflows and outflows from core operating business in an accounting year. Operating Activities includes cash received from Sales, cash expenses paid for direct costs as well as payment is done for funding working capital.
Colgate’s Cash Flow from Operation Example
source: Colgate SEC Filings
- Even though Colgate’s Net Income of 2015 is $1,548 million, its cash flow from Operation seems to be in line with the past.
- If you look closely at the 2015 Cash Flow from operations, there is a charge for Venezuela accounting change that has contributed $1,084 million in 2015. This was absent in 2013 and 2014. If you remove this charge, Colgate’s Cash Flow From Operations will not look too exciting.
#2 – Cash Flow from Investment Activities
Other than operations, the company also invests in assets that can provide them with greater returns. We need to find out how many cashless (loss or gain) activities are done during the period so that we can take them into account while ascertaining the net cash inflow. Cash Inflow from investing activities would include activities like purchasing long-term assets or securities or selling them (except cash) and also providing and taking loans.
Though there is nothing much to be talked about here, there are two things to be taken into account.
- First, we need to add back losses (if any) while selling any long term assets or marketable securitiesMarketable SecuritiesMarketable securities are liquid assets that can be converted into cash quickly and are classified as current assets on a company's balance sheet. Commercial Paper, Treasury notes, and other money market instruments are included in it.. These losses should be added back as there is no cash outflow for the losses.
- Second, we need to deduct profits (if any) while selling any long term assets or marketable securities. These profits should be deducted because there is no cash inflow for the profits the company has made.
Learn Cash Flow from Investments in detail – Cash flow from InvestmentsCash Flow From InvestmentsCash flow from investing activities refer to the money acquired or spent on the purchase or disposal of the fixed assets (both tangible and intangible) for the business purpose. For instance, the purchase of land and joint venture investment is cash outflow, while equipment sale is a cash inflow.
Colgate’s Cash Flow from Investment Example
source: Colgate SEC Filings
- Colgate’s Cash Flow Analysis from Investing Activities was at -685 million in 2015 and -859 million in 2014.
- Colgate’s core capital outlay was -691 million in 2015 as compared to -757 million in 2014.
- In 2015, Colgate got proceeds of $599 million from the sale of marketable securities and investments.
- Additionally, Colgate received $221 million from proceeds from the sale of South Pacific laundry detergent business.
#3 – Cash Flow from Financing Activities
- First, if there is any buying back or issuing stocks, it will come under financing activities in cash flow analysis.
- Borrowing and repaying loans on a short term or long term issuing notes and bonds, etc.) will also be included under financing activitiesFinancing ActivitiesThe various transactions that involve the movement of funds between the company and its investors, owners, or creditors in order to achieve long-term growth are referred to as financing activities. Such activities can be analyzed in the financial section of the company's cash flow statement..
- We also need to include dividend paid (if any). However, we need to make sure that we don’t include accounts payableAccounts PayableAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period. or accrued liabilities (because they would be taken into account in net cash flow from operating activities).
Colgate’s Cash Flow from Financing Example
source: Colgate SEC Filings
- Colgate’s Financing activities have been pretty stable for the years 2015, 2014 and 2013.
- Colgate’s principal repayment on debt was -9,181 million in 2015, and its issuances stood at $9,602 million.
- Colgate has a stable dividend policyDividend PolicyDividend policy is the policy that the company adopts for paying out the dividends to the company's shareholders, which includes the percentage of the amount at which the dividend is to be paid out to the stockholders and how frequent the company pays the dividend amount.. They paid -1,493 million in 2015 and -1446 million in 2014.
- As a part of its share buyback programShare Buyback ProgramShare buyback refers to the repurchase of the company’s own outstanding shares from the open market using the accumulated funds of the company to decrease the outstanding shares in the company’s balance sheet. This is done either to increase the value of the existing shares or to prevent various shareholders from controlling the company., Colgate buys back shares at regular intervals. In 2015, Colgate purchased $1551 million worth of shares.
Learn Cash Flow from Financing Activities in detail – Cash Flow from Financing ActivitiesCash Flow From Financing ActivitiesCash flow from financing activities refers to inflow and the outflow of cash from the financing activities like change in capital from securities like equity or preference shares, issuing debt, debentures or repayment of a debt, payment of dividend or interest on securities.
Cash Flow Analysis Example – IronMount vs. BronzeMetal
Let go back to the earlier cash flow analysis example that we started with – IronMount Corp and BronzeMetal Corp had identical cash positions at the beginning and end of 2007. Each company also reported a net income of $225,000 for 2007.
Perform its Cash Flow Analysis.
IronMount and Bronze Metal, both companies have the same end of the year cash of $365,900. Additionally, changes in cash during the year are the same at $315,900. Which company is displaying elements of cash flow stress?
- We note that Cash Flow from Operations is negative for IronMount at -21,450. Gain on sale of equipment is deducted as this is not an operating cash flow. IronMount sale of equipment adds 307,350, which contributes to the increase in the cash.
- On the other hand, when we look at BronzeMetal, we note that its cash flow from operations is strong at $374,250 and seems to be doing great in its business. They are not relying on the one-time sale of equipment to generate cash flows.
- With this, we conclude that IronMount is showing signs of stress due to low core operating income and its reliance on other one-time items to generate cash.
Cash Flow Analysis Example – Alphabet (Google)
- Cash Flow From Operations – Google’s Cash Flow from Operations are generated from advertising revenues by Google properties and Google Network Members’ properties. Additionally, Google generates cash through sales of apps, in-app purchases and digital content, hardware products, licensing arrangements, and service fees received for Google Cloud offerings. Google’s Cash flow from operation shows an increasing trend primarily due to an increase in Net Income. Google’s Net Income was $14.14 billion in 2014, $16.35 billion in 2015, and $19.48 billion in 2016.
- Cash Flow From Investing Activities – Google’s investing activities primarily include the purchases of marketable securities, cash collateral paid related to securities lending, and spends related to acquisitions.
- Cash Flow from Financing Activities – Cash Flow from Financing is driven by proceeds from the issuance of debt, debt repayments, repurchases of capital stockCapital StockThe capital stock is the total amount of share capital (including equity capital and preference capital) that has been issued by a company. It is a way of raising funds by the company to meet its various business goals., and net payments related to stock-based award activitiesStock-based Award ActivitiesStock-based compensation also called share-based compensation refers to the rewards given by the company to its employees by way of giving them the equity ownership rights in the company with the motive of aligning the interest of the management, shareholders and the employees of the company.. Google’s Cash Flows from Financing activities are decreasing each year due to the increase in shares repurchased. In 2016, Google repurchased shares worth $3.304 billion as compared to $2.422 billion in 2015.
Cash Flow Analysis Example – Amazon
- Cash Flow from Operations – Amazon’s Cash Flow from Operations is derived from the cash received from consumer, seller, developer, enterprise, and content creator customers, advertising agreements, and co-branded credit card agreements. We note that Cash Flow from Operations has been increasing steadily. This is primarily due to the increase in net income. Amazon’s Net Income was -$241 million in 2014, $596 million in 2015, and $2,371 million in 2016.
- Cash Flow from Investing – Cash Flow from Investment for Amazon comes from cash capital expenditures, including leasehold improvements, internal-use software and website development costs, cash outlays for acquisitions, investments in other companies and intellectual property rights, and purchases, sales, and maturities of marketable securities. Cash Flow from Investing was -$9.9 billion in 2016 as compared to -6.5 billion in 2015.
- Cash Flow from Financing Activities – Amazon’s Cash Flow from Financing activities comes from cash outflows resulting from the Principal repayment of long-term debt and obligations related to capital and financial leases. Amazon’s cash flow from Financing Activities was -$2.91 billion in 2016 and -$3.76 billion in 2015.
Cash Flow Analysis Example – Box Inc
- Cash Flow from Operations – Box generates in Cash Flow from operations by providing its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud content management platform to organizations to manage their content along with secure and easy access and sharing of this content. Unlike the other two examples of Amazon and Google, Box Cash Flow from Operations and weak due to continued losses over the years. Box CFO was -$1.21 million in 2016 as compared to -$66.32 million in 2015.
- Cash Flow from Investing Activities – Box Cash Flow from Investing activities was at -$7.57 million in 2016 as compared to -$80.86 million in 2015. This was primarily due to reduced capexCapexCapex or Capital Expenditure is the expense of the company's total purchases of assets during a given period determined by adding the net increase in factory, property, equipment, and depreciation expense during a fiscal year. in the core business.
- Cash flow from Financing Activities – Box Cash Flow from Financing Activities have shown a variable trend. In 2015, Box came up with its IPOBox Came Up With Its IPOThe analysis of the Box IPO valuation can be done using various methodologies which are Relative Valuation – SaaS Comparable Comps, Comparable Acquisition Analysis, Using Stock-Based Rewards, Valuation cues from Private Equity Funding, Valuation cues from Dropbox Private Equity Funding, and Discounted Cash Flow Approach for Box IPO Valuation., and therefore its Cash Flow from Financing increased to $345.45 million in 2015. Prior to its IPO, Box was financed by Private Equity InvestorsEquity InvestorsAn equity investor is that person or entity who contributes a certain sum to public or private companies for a specific period to obtain financial gains in the form of capital appreciation, dividend payouts, stock value appraisal, etc..
Even if cash flow analysis is one of the best tools for investors to find out whether a company is doing well or not, cash flow analysis also has a few disadvantages. We will have a look at them one by one.
- One of the most significant things about cash flow analysis is that it doesn’t take into account any growth in the cash flow statement. The cash flow statement always shows what happened in the past. But past information may not be able to portray the right information about a company for investors who are interested in investing in the company. For example, if the company has invested a large amount of cash into R&D and would generate a huge amount of cash through its ground-breaking idea, these should come in the cash flow statement (but they don’t get included in the cash flow).
- Another disadvantage of the cash flow statement is this – it can’t be easily interpreted. If you ask any investor to interpret the cash flow statementCash Flow StatementStatement of Cash flow is a statement in financial accounting which reports the details about the cash generated and the cash outflow of the company during a particular accounting period under consideration from the different activities i.e., operating activities, investing activities and financing activities., he wouldn’t be able to understand much without the help of the income statement, and the other information about transactions occurred throughout the period. For example, it’s difficult to understand from a cash flow statement whether a company is paying off its debt or investing more in assets.
- Cash Flow Statement is inappropriate if you want to understand the profitability of the firm because, in the cash flow statement, non-cash items are not taken into account. Thus, all the profits are deducted, and all the losses are added back to get the actual cash inflow or outflow.
- Cash Flow Statement is articulated on the basis of the cash basis of accounting, and it completely ignores the accrual concept of accounting.
If you want to understand a company and its financial affairs, you need to look at all three statements and all the ratios. Only cash flow analysis would not be able to give you the right picture of a company. Look for net cash inflow, but also make sure that you have checked how profitable the company is over the years.
Also, cash flow analysis is not an easy thing to calculate. If you want to calculate cash flow analysis, you need to understand more than the basic level of finance. And you also need to understand financial terms, how they are captured in the statements, and how they reflect the income statementIncome StatementThe income statement is one of the company's financial reports that summarizes all of the company's revenues and expenses over time in order to determine the company's profit or loss and measure its business activity over time based on user requirements.. Thus, if you want to do a cash flow analysis, first know how to see the income statement and understand what to include and what to exclude in the cash flow statement.