Cash Flow Statement – Definition and Meaning

Cash Flow Statement is a report that gives the movement of cash during the period under consideration. It gives an idea about the inflow and outflow of cash from operating, investing and financing activities.

Statement of cash flows is one of the three basic financial statements, along with Balance Sheet and Income Statement. These three statements help the investors gauge the performance of the company in terms of the profitability, financial position and movement of cash.

Difference between Cash Flow Statement and Income Statement

There are 2 main differences:

  • Income statement follows accrual accounting, whereas a cash flow statement does not. Thus, entries in a cash flow statement are recorded only when money exchanges hands. 
  • Income statement also records non-cash revenues and expenses. Cash Flow Statement is strictly for cash transactions only.

Cash Vs. Profit

It gives the investors an idea about the ability of a company to meet its future obligations. If an income statement shows a net profit of $100, it does not really mean that the company has increased its cash repository by $100 because income statement also reports non-cash transactions. But the bottom figure of $100 in a cash flow statement certainly means that the company has increased its cash deposits by $100 during the previous accounting period.

Components of a Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement is divided into 3 sections. Each head signifies the source from where a company can make money.

Cash Flow from Operating Activities

This includes the cash arising out of the core business the company is in. The difference between the revenue generated out of the sales of the products and the cost will be cash flow from operating activities. 

Cash Flow from Investing Activities

This includes cash spent in capital expenditures or the cash raised out of a sale of fixed assets or any other form of investment. 

Cash Flow from Financing Activities

A company will look to expand its business from time to time. To finance this, the company will either raise equity or debt. This comprises of cash from financing activities.

Example of a Cash Flow Statement

Below is the sample structure of a cash flow statement:

Balance Sheet as at 31st March 2012 (All figures are in million USD)

Particulars Year 2011-12 Year 2010-11
(A) Cash Flow from Operating Activities
Profit before tax 1000 900
Depreciation 100 100
Tax 300 250
Net Cash generated from Operating Activities 600 550
(B) Cash Flow from Investing Activities
Purchase of Fixed Assets (100) (50)
Sale of Fixed Assets 50
Net cash used in investing activities (50) (50)
(C) Cash Flow from Financing Activities
Equity generated 100 100
Dividend paid (20) (20)
Net Cash generated from financing Activities 80 80
Cash and Cash equivalent as at 31.03.2012 630 580

Interpretation of Cash Flow Statement

From the above statement, for the financial year 11-12, it can be seen that the cash generated is USD 630 million. It is quite likely that the profit is greater than USD 630 million. Ideally, a company with high cash flows is more equipped to pay its debts and finance its day-to-day operations seamlessly. Higher generation of cash flows can be taken as a positive signal by investors.

Last updated on : August 1st, 2017
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