Uses of Cash Flow Statement

27/07/2020 2 By indiafreenotes

The purpose of the cash flow statement is to show where an entities cash is being generated (cash inflows), and where its cash is being spent (cash outflows), over a specific period of time (usually quarterly and annually). It is important for analyzing the liquidity and long term solvency of a company.

The cash flow statement uses cash basis accounting instead of accrual basis accounting which is used for the balance sheet and income statement by most companies. This is important because a company may accrue accounting revenues but may not actually receive the cash. This could produce profits and taxes payable but not provide the resources to stay solvent.

Cash Flow Statement Components

The cash flow statement components provide a detailed view of cash flow from operations, investing, and financing:

Cash Flow from Operating Activities

The net amount of cash coming in or leaving from the day to day business operations of an entity is called Cash Flow from Operations. Basically it is the operating income plus non-cash items such as depreciation added. Since accounting profits are reduced by non-cash items (i.e. depreciation and amortization) they must be added back to accounting profits to calculate cash flow.

Cash flow from operations is an important measurement because it tells the analyst about the viability of an entities current business plan and operations. In the long run, cash flow from operations must be cash inflows in order for an entity to be solvent and provide for the normal outflows from investing and finance activities.

Cash Flow from Investing Activities

Cash flow from investing activities would include the outflow of cash for long term assets such as land, buildings, equipment, etc., and the inflows from the sale of assets, businesses, securities, etc. Most cash flow investing activities are cash out flows because most entities make long term investments for operations and future growth.

Cash Flow from Finance Activities

Cash flow from finance activities is the cash out flow to the entities investors (i.e. interest to bondholders) and shareholders (i.e. dividends and stock buybacks) and cash inflows from sales of bonds or issuance of stock equity. Most cash flow finance activities are cash outflows since most entities only issue bonds and stocks occasionally.

Main uses of cash flow statement.

  • Since a cash flow statement is based on the cash basis of accounting, it is very useful in the evaluation of cash position of a firm.
  • A projected cash flow statement can be prepared in order to know the future cash position of a concern so as to enable a firm to plan and coordinate its financial operations properly. By preparing this statement, a firm can come to know as to how much cash will be generated into the firm and how much cash will be needed to make various payments and hence the firm can well plan to arrange for the future requirements of cash.
  • A comparison of the historical and projected cash flow statements can be made so as to find the variations and deficiency or otherwise in the performance so as to enable the firm to take immediate and effective action.
  • A series of intra-firm and inter-firm cash flow statements reveals whether the firm’s liquidity (short-term paying capacity) is improving or deteriorating over a period of time and in comparison to other firms over a given period of time.
  • Cash flow statement helps in planning the repayment of loans, replacement of fixed assets and other similar long-term planning of cash. It is also significant for capital budgeting decisions.
  • It better explains the causes for poor cash position in spite of substantial profits in a firm by throwing light on various applications of cash made by the firm. It further helps in answering some intricate questions like -what happened to the net profits? Where did the profits go? Why more dividends could not be paid in spite of sufficient available profit?
  • Cash flow analysis is more useful and appropriate than funds flow analysis for short-term financial analysis as in a very short period it is cash which is more elevant then the working capital for forecasting the ability of the firm to meet its immediate obligations.
  • Cash flow statement prepared according to AS-3 (Revised) is more suitable for making comparisons than the funds flow statement as there is no standard format used for the same.
  • Cash flow statement provides information of all activities classified under operating, investing and financing activities. The funds statement even when prepared on cash basis, did not disclose cash flows from such activities separately. Thus, cash flow statement is more useful than the funds statement.