Cash flow from Operations

What is Cash Flow from Operations (Operating Activities)?

Cash 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.

‘Cash flow from operations’ tries to look into the cash inflows and outflows caused by the core business operations and, in turn, looking into the cash generated by the company’s products and services. The main component which is reflected in this part of the statement shows the changes made in cash, accounts receivables, inventory, depreciation, and accounts payable segment. Analysts community look into this section with hawkeye as it shows the viability of the business conducted by the company.

In the long run, if the company has to remain solvent at the net level’s cash flow from operations’ needs to remain net positive (or in other words, operations must generate positive cash inflows).

Amazon-Cash-Flow-from-Operations

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How to Prepare Cash Flow from Operating Activities?

Let us have a look at how this section of the cash flow statement is prepared. Understanding the preparation method will help us evaluate what all and were all to look into so that one can read the fine prints in this section.

The beginning point of this section is the net income figure, which is available from the income statement of the company. If all of the company’s revenue was in the form of cash and there are no non-cash expenses, then this remains as the main figure. However, since, in reality, it is not true, hence the non-cash charges and credit salesCredit SalesCredit Sales is a transaction type in which the customers/buyers are allowed to pay up for the bought item later on instead of paying at the exact time of purchase. It gives them the required time to collect money & make the payment. read more in the year need to be adjusted. Let us understand this by means of a hypothetical example.

Let us assume that Mr. X starts a new business and has planned that at the end of the month, he will prepare his financial statements like income statement, balance sheet, and 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.read more.

1st month: There was no revenue in the first month and no such operating expense; hence income statement will result in net income to be zero. In cash flow from the operation, the starting point would be net income, which will be zero. However, there is a decrease in cash by 700 dollars as the company decided to purchase some inventory.

Cash from Operating activities (for the first month)
Net Income $            –
Increase in inventory $ -700.00
Cash Provided (used) in operating activitiesOperating ActivitiesOperating activities generate the majority of the company's cash flows since they are directly linked to the company's core business activities such as sales, distribution, and production.read more $ -700.00


2nd Month
: During this month, the company was able to sell 10 product units priced at 80 dollars each. The delivery of the product was done on the 20th of the month, and the buyer was provided an invoice worth 800 dollars due by the 10th of the next month. The cost of this product sold is 500 dollars. Hence as per income statement, the net income was $300 for the second month.

CFO activities (for the second month)
Net Income $        300.00
Increase in accounts receivables $      -800.00
Decrease in inventory $        500.00
Cash Provided (used) in operating activitiesOperating ActivitiesOperating activities generate the majority of the company's cash flows since they are directly linked to the company's core business activities such as sales, distribution, and production.read more $                 –

Please note that the above cash flow from operating activities is just for the second month. The cumulative cash flow for two months would look like the one shown in the table below.

CFO activities (end of the second month)
Net Income $        300.00
Increase in accounts receivables $      -800.00
Increase in inventory $      -200.00
Cash Provided (used) in operating activitiesOperating ActivitiesOperating activities generate the majority of the company's cash flows since they are directly linked to the company's core business activities such as sales, distribution, and production.read more $      -700.00


Understanding this cumulative two-month statement:
The net income for the two months of operation of the company has been 300 dollars. Since the amount is still not received by the company, it lies under accounts receivables (-800 dollars). During the two months’ inventory has increased by 200 dollars, hence shown as negative in the cumulative statement. As a result, the cash flows for the two-month period shows that Mr. X’s cash from operating activities is a negative $700. So in simple terms, a company has brought goods and paid for it; hence cash outflow took place. The company was able to sell the goods, but money is still not received. Hence the company at a cumulative level is standing negative on CFO.

3rd Month: This is the month in which the quarter ends for the company. The company purchased office equipment at the start of the month for 1100 dollars (accounted under operating activities). Due to the purchase of the office equipment company also incurred non-cash depreciation charge of 20 dollars during the month.

CFO activities (for the third month)
Net Income $                 –
Depreciation charge added back $          20.00
Cash Provided (used) in operating activitiesOperating ActivitiesOperating activities generate the majority of the company's cash flows since they are directly linked to the company's core business activities such as sales, distribution, and production.read more $          20.00

Please note that above CFO is just for the third month, the cumulative cash flow for the quarter would look like the one shown in the table below.

CFO activities (end of a quarter)
Net Income $        300.00
Depreciation charge added back $          20.00
Increase in accounts receivables $                 –
Decrease in inventory $      -200.00
Cash Provided (used) in operating activitiesOperating ActivitiesOperating activities generate the majority of the company's cash flows since they are directly linked to the company's core business activities such as sales, distribution, and production.read more $        120.00


Understanding this cumulative quarter statement:
The net income for the quarter of operation of the company has been 300 dollars. During the three months’ inventory has increased by 200 dollars, hence shown as negative in the cumulative statement. There is a depreciation charge of 20 dollars, which is added back. As a result, the cash flows for the three-month period show that Mr. X’s cash from operating activities is $120.

Calculating Cash Flow from Operations – Direct Method

Calculating Cash flow from Operations using direct method includes determining all types of cash transactions, including cash receiptsCash ReceiptsA cash receipt is a small document that works as evidence that the amount of cash received during a transaction involves transferring cash or cash equivalent. The original copy of this receipt is given to the customer, while the seller keeps the other copy for accounting purposes.read more, cash payments, cash expenses, cash interest, and taxes.

Steps to calculate cash flow from operations using the direct method is given below –

A) Cash Receipt: Represents the actual amount of cash received during the period

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B) Cash Payment: Represents the actual amount of cash payments to the suppliers

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C) Cash expenses may include selling, administration, R&D, and changes in other operating liabilities

D) Cash interest-only recognizes interest expense paid in cash

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E) Cash Tax: Represents only taxes paid in cash

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Cash Flow from Operations Formula (Direct Method) = Cash Receipts – Cash Payments – Cash Expenses – Cash Interest – Cash Taxes

Most Important –  Download Cash Flow From Operations Excel Template

Download Excel Examples to Calculate CFO using Direct and Indirect Method

Cash Flow from Operations – Direct Method Example

ABC Corporation’s income statement sales was $650,000; gross profit of $350,000; selling and administrative costs of $140,000; and income taxes of $40,000. The selling and administrative expenses included $14,500 for depreciation.

Calculate Cash Flow from Operations using the Direct Method. 

The following additional information is available

cash-flow-from-operations-direct-method-example
  • Cash Receipt = $650,000 – ($81,000 – $65000) = $634,000
  • Cash Payment = $300,000 – ($55,000 – $42,000) – (45,000 – $38,000) = $280,000
  • Cash Expense = $140,000 – $14,500 = $125,500
  • Cash Taxes = $40,000

Cash Flow from Operations using Direct Method formula =

$634,000 – $320,000 – $125,500 – $40,000 = $188,500

Calculating Cash Flow from Operations using Indirect Method

Calculation of Cash flow from operations using the indirect method starts with the Net income and adjust it as per the changes in the balance sheet.

Steps to calculate cash flow from operations using the indirect method is given below.

Step 1:
  • Start with Net Income
Step 2:
  • Subtract: Identify gains or losses that result from financing and investments (like gains from the sale of land)
Step 3:
Step 4:
  • Add or subtract changes to operating accounts.
  • Operating Assets: Increase in the balances of operating assets is subtracted, while the decrease in those accounts is added.
  • Operating Liabilities: Increases in the balances of operating liability accounts are added, while decreases are subtracted

Cash Flow from Operations Formula (Indirect method) = Net Income + Gains & Losses from financing & investments + Non-cash charges + changes in operating accounts

Cash Flow from Operations – Indirect Method Example

Let us work through the same Cash Flow from Operations example we used for using the Direct Approach.

ABC Corporation’s income statement sales was $650,000; gross profit of $350,000; selling and administrative costs of $140,000; and income taxes of $40,000. The selling and administrative expenses included $14,500 for depreciation.

Calculate  Cash Flow from Operations using Indirect Method 

The following additional information is available

cash-flow-from-operations-direct-method-example

Since we are not provided with the Income Statement, let us quickly prepare an Income statement for above.

cash-flow-from-operations-indirect-method

Step 1: Net Income us $170,000

Step 2:  There are no gains or losses from financing and investments = $0

Step 3:Add depreciation (non-cash item) of $14,500

Step 4:Add or subtract changes to operating accounts

  • Cash outflow due to changes in Accounts Receivable = 65,000 – 81,000 = -16,000
  • Cash inflow due to changes in Inventory = 55,000 – 42,000 = 13,000
  • Cash inflow due to changes in Accounts Payables = 45,000 – 38,000 = 7,000
  • Total changes in Operating accounts = -16,000 + 13,000 + 7,000 = $4,000

Cash Flow From Operations formula (Indirect Method) = $170,000 + $0 + 14,500 + $4000 = $188,500

Why is it important?

CFO is always compared to the company’s net income. If it is consistently higher than the net income, it can be safely assumed that the company’s quality of earnings is high. It has been seen that analysts raise a red flag when the CFO is lower than the net income. The question, in this case, is why the reported net income is not turning into cash for the company.

apple-cash-flow-from-operations-1

source: ycharts

The main reason why a company exists is to earn revenue and create shareholder revenue. This is the prime reason why the assessment of whether the company has been able to generate cash by operating activities is an important component. As from above, we can see that Apple Incorporation in FY15 has generated $81,7 billion as cash from operating activities, of which $53,394 billion has been generated as Net income.

Let us now have a look at another company’s cash flow from operations and see what it speaks about the company. This is the case of Box. The company for years didn’t generate accounting profit, but investors kept putting money into the company on the backdrop of a solid business proposition.

box-cash-flow-from-operations

source: ycharts

Our objective is to make you assess the importance of cash flows in the company and how it plays a critical component in the business world. Think of a pharma company that is doing strong R&D, and there is a possibility of seeing a blockbuster patented drug being launched in a few years’ time. During this period, investors will be looking at the fact whether the company has enough cash to continue operations during this period.

Conclusion

As we have seen throughout the article, we are able to see that cash flow from operations is a great indicator of the core operations of the company. It can help an investor gauge about the operations of the company and see whether the core operations are generating ample money in the business. If the company is not generating money from core operations, it will cease to exist in a few years’ time.

Cash flow from Operations Video

 
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Comments

  1. AvatarBrandon HAWKINS says

    First of all I want to thank you for such a great article, you are doing a great job as always. I almost read all your blogs as specially the blogs related to finance, I do have a small question if you can tel me what is the importance of Free cash flow for business?

    • Dheeraj VaidyaDheeraj Vaidya says

      thank you so much.As you must know Cash is the king, as blood is important to our body as so cash flow is also important for any kind of business, you also need cash flow to pay your debt commitments and run your day to day operations of the business. This excess cash is called as FCF i.e Free Cash Flow. You can learn about FCFF in detail here.