Saturday, April 07, 2007

Regarding Cash Flow

Here is an interesting article on Cash Flow: Show Me the Money: Tracing a Firm's Cash Flow

  • Earnings, dividends, and asset values are important factors, but it is ultimately a company's ability to generate cash that fuels the growth in these factors. Strong cash flow allows a company to increase dividends, develop new products, enter new markets, pay off liabilities, buy back shares, and even become an acquisition target. It is important to understand the statement of cash flows and the elements that impact upon cash flow trends.

Remember not all earnings are the same. Do not be blinded by this fact. Do look at the cash flow.

And here is something to ponder upon. If you do not look at the quality behind the earnings, yeardsticks such as PE or ROE could easily be distorted. And if that is the case, do you think it is wise to invest based on distorted yardsticks?

Ayway, do give the related-links posted in the article a read.

1. Can I See How a Company Raises Money and What It Is Used For?
How Can I Tell If a Firm Is Making Enough Money to Cover Its Day-to-Day Operation?
How Are Company Purchases and Sales Recorded?
Do the Stocks and Bonds a Firm Issues Count as Cash?
How Does a Firm's Cash Flow Relate to Its Income?
Why Should a Company Have Excess Cash Flow?

The last article gives a good reasoning why the cash flow is so important.

  • Ideally, a company should not only cover the costs of producing its goods and services, but also actually produce excess cash flow for its shareholders. Cash flows from operations represents a good starting point for this type of analysis. However, beyond current production, a growing company must reinvest its cash to maintain its operations and expand. While management may neglect capital expenditures in the short term, there are fundamental negative long-term growth implications to such neglect. Free cash flow refines the cash flow from operations measure by subtracting capital expenditures and dividend payments from operating cash flow. While you can argue that dividend payments are not required, they are expected by shareholders and they are paid in cash, so they must be subtracted from cash flow to calculate a free cash flow figure.

    This free cash flow figure is considered to be excess cash flow that the company can use as it deems most beneficial. With strong free cash flow, debt can be retired, new products can be developed, stock can be repurchased, and dividend payments can be increased. Excess cash flow also makes a company a more attractive takeover target.

    You may need to make adjustments to the free cash flow figure depending upon the company's industry. Financials do not typically have large expenditures in brick and mortar property, plant, and equipment expenditures. However, they make significant investments in marketable securities, which are not considered in the standard free cash flow calculation.
    When looking at the cash flow of a financial firm, it would be best to examine total cash flow figures from the statement of cash flows.

    Cyclical firms and companies with long development and construction cycles may have periods of slow sales, inventory build-up, and strong capital expenditures that occur over the normal course of business. A firm such as Boeing, which has a long development cycle for new planes, a long ramp-up period when starting production, and an extended and expensive product construction cycle, may show negative free cash flow until it starts to deliver its planes in quantity.


    A firm's cash flows are driven by its sales growth and management's ability to manage expenses, capital investment, and financing in response to that growth. The cash flow statement can give valuable insight into how well a company is managing its growth. Sales, inventory control, production and employee costs, accounts receivable management, interest payment levels, product development, and capital expenditures are some of the elements that impact the cash flow statement. It is critical to understand industry norms to gain a complete understanding of the numbers. Ultimately, firms have to produce cash to do well in the long run.

Yeah, Show ME the Moola!!


Daphne Ling said...


Latest developments on Aisya on my blog

I'll sum up for you here. Collections have reached Rm 8100, slighltly over...Have compiled a list so that people who wanna donate things (some are worried money might go astray, be misused etc) can do so...

If you know anyone who wants to do so, can please alert me, so I'll put next to the item they wanna donate that there's already a pledge, so we wont have repetitions...Just sms/email/comment and I'll put it up...Nobody has to donate a whole sum...They can just say, "I'll sponsor two months of *fill in blanks*"...

Thanks a million. Will keep in touch...