Cash flow

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The Quality of Financial Information

Published December 19, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

financial-reporting

The holidays are creeping up on us and I just realized, I neglected to post Wednesday’s blog. This post is significant to my research work in financial analysis because it helps us understand that in order to keep apprised of how well a company is doing, the quality of financial reporting is the key component that determines whether the statements paint an accurate portrait of the firm or not. For example, because of scandals that occurred from companies like ENRON, AEI, and WorldCom, a revolution occurred with respect to financial reporting. According to Bahnson and Miller (2002) old practices and habitual thought processes with respect to accounting principles were put aside and replaced with new strategies and systems. As a result, accountants and finance executives are expected to embark on a different path that embraces a new shift in the bookkeeping paradigm called quality financial reporting (QFR). For financial managers to consider investing in a company they are looking for accurate information about two significant components: (1) opportunities to receive future cash flows, and (2) information about those opportunities (Bahnson & Miller, 2002). QFR provides complete information to investors and creditors to give them confidence in a company’s performance abilities. Much of the information provided on financial statements can be intimidating to many managers and entrepreneurs. This is a typical response from those who lack the financial intelligence required that can help them make more effective decisions in running their firms. Berman and Knight (2008) explain that the figures on financial statements help strategists determine a variety of estimates and assumptions. Learning how to assess that information helps planners to identify the bias of the data provided, in one direction or another (Berman & Knight, 2008). In this context, where financial results are considered, bias merely suggests that the numbers may be skewed in a certain direction. In other words, bookkeepers and finance professionals are trained to use certain assumptions and estimates rather than others who view the reports for other purposes. QFR is essential because it provides sufficient information to identify not only the source of those gains, but whether there are any other events or circumstances that could have an effect out the outcome, like pending litigation.

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Much of the information provided on financial statements can be intimidating to many managers and entrepreneurs. This is a typical response from those who lack the financial intelligence required that can help them make more effective decisions in running their firms. QFR is effective at painting an accurate view of the company’s financial condition. For example, revenue should not be recognized until there is evidence that a sale has transpired. In other words, the recipient has received delivery of the product or completion of the services rendered and revenue is collected. Many companies, however, violate this policy and report revenue prematurely without all criteria being met. Analysts can look for clues of false revenue reporting in the financial reports. For instance, the notes can reveal the company’s position with respect to collecting revenue policies to ascertain whether any changes occurred and determine the reason for the changes as well as the impact they can have.  Another clue is an analysis of the financial statements to determine the pattern of movement from sales, inventory, and accounts payable. For example, spikes in revenue during the final quarter may be a sign of revenue reported prematurely unless there is a specified reason for the spike to generate sales (like an end of the year close-out sale to liquidate inventory). Companies do not commonly experience spikes from sales in the fourth-quarter so this immediately raises flags. Other methods companies use to raise revenue levels include keeping the account records open longer at the end of the allotted accounting period. Some corporations on the other hand, use deceptive tactics like reporting gross sales rather than net to show higher revenue. For example, a company that is acting as an agent for another organization may collect their revenue in the form of a commission. According to regulations set forth by the GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices), agents are not considered the owner of merchandise being moved. Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain that the GAAP requires the reporting of Gross Revenue for Principal Owners and Net Revenue for those who act as a representative in the in the sale of a product or service.  In other words, because agents are not considered the owners or originators of the product who assume the risk of the merchandise, the company acting as the agency can use the net method for recording revenue. Therefore knowing that a company collects revenue as an agency analysts can scrutinize the data closely to determine whether they reported gross or net revenue.

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QFR is also important because it can help strategists understand the various inventory valuation methods. For instance, there are times when companies produce lower or higher earnings due to the fluctuation of inflation. Analysts again must look to the financial notes to determine the details of the company’s accounting policies to disclose whether the changes in revenue occurred due to LIFO (last in first out) or FIFO (first in first out) inventory cost flow accounting assumptions. If the value of the products sold, for example, falls under its original cost, the product is written down to reflect the market value and is determined by the cost to replace or produce an equivalent. This means that write downs can also play a part in the company’s profit margins which affects the comparability and quality of financial reporting. Accounting practices that do not provide details and incorporate misleading information is considered an unacceptable practice and any CEO that signs off on documentation that provides a misrepresentation of the truth is putting their career at risk and may face dire consequences as a result. That should be incentive enough to engage in QFR. To surmise, QFR provides investors the ratios that reveal whether companies are able to buy inventory and pay their bills. Furthermore, they provide profitability ratios that help creditors understand how much capital the company is generating while efficiency ratios reveal how well the company is managing their assets. The more complete these reports are the more likely they are to reduce shareholder uncertainty. In the eyes of investors and creditors, certainty reduces risk and reduced risk, provides shareholders with the satisfaction of a lower rate of return. In the long run, a lower rate of return means a lower cost for capital, which ultimately produces a higher stock price for the company. In conclusion, providing quality financial information is an essential component to management that contributes to a company’s long term success.  Tomorrow’s blog will post on schedule and will take a look at how different conflicts of interest can effect quality reporting.

References:

Bahnson, P., & Miller, P. (2002). Quality financial reporting. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Berman, K., & Knight, J. (2008). Financial intelligence for entrepreneurs. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Fraser, L., & Ormiston, A. (2010). Understanding financial statements. Pearson Education.

Eastman Kodak Cash Flow Statement

Published December 16, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Early last week, I revealed the significance and meaning of cash flow statements. As we discovered, a corporation’s cash flow statements reveal a company’s ability to generate and allocate working capital. In fact Tracy and Tracy (2012) describe the movement of a company’s cash flow as the bloodline of a business due to its continual need to keep in circulation to avoid fatality (Tracy & Tracy, 2012). The focus of this post is a continuation of the analysis work of the Kodak Corporation’s financial condition provided from the data contained within their 2007 Annual Report. The analysis will reveal how well they managed their working capital. The study will also examine the following components that are contained within the cash flow statement: (a) the changes in balances that occurred with respect to Kodak’s assets and liability accounts such as inventory, accounts receivable, supplies, insurance, accounts payable and other unearned revenues; (b) adjustments that occurred as a result of their investing activities which include the purchase and sale of long term investments, equipment, and property; (c) changes that transpired from Kodak’s financing activities that also had an effect on the balances of long term liability and stockholders’ equity accounts due to such items as deferred income taxes and stock activity; and (d) the supplemental information provided from the notes that report the exchange of important items that did not involve cash such as income taxes and interest paid all of which may have had an effect on the flow of their working capital. The findings of this research will conclude that Kodak’s cash management strategies were effective in keeping enough operating capital available needed to operate during that time.

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The Significance of Cash Flow Statements

Companies risk running out of money and can go bankrupt without effective cash management strategies in place; plain and simple. Cash flow statements act as a tool to help analysts assess a company’s ability to generate and disperse their working capital. Friedlob and Plewa (1995) assert that in order for a company to run efficiently, they must budget their cash flow operations. Managing cash flow is a complex issue that requires today’s cash managers to have general knowledge in accounting practices and the ability to develop effective networking skills because of their extensive involvement in the company’s banking relationships, investment decisions, and forecasting decisions. For example, managing cash inflow from sales require that cash managers know how to extend credit and collect revenue so that it can be used effectively for functions like: (a) accelerating cash receipts to move cash faster using methods like fast bill pay, offering cash discounts and electronic transfers; (b) the planning and delaying of disbursements to gain the maximum use of cash; (c) forecasting cash inflows and outflows to avoid such events like overdrafts, deficiencies, and late payments; (d) investing idle cash to convert excess cash into short-term investments and back into cash again when they are needed; (e) reporting cash balances to make it convenient for managers to monitor and determine a company’s cash position; and (f) monitoring the cash flow system to assess whether the system is operating as designed and that goals are being achieved (Friedlob & Plewa, 1995). To ensure the cash is being used efficiently, managers require skills to help them maximize the earning potential of their organization and cash flow statements serve as tools that help them monitor and manage working capital.

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Kodak Annual Report Cash Flow Statement Analysis

An analysis of Kodak Company’s cash flow statement will reveal their ability to generate and disperse working capital they acquired from their operating, investing, and financing activities during a specified accounting period. Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain that cash flow statements reveal the absolute dollar amounts of a company’s various accounts and are prepared by calculating all of the changes that are reflected in the balance sheet accounts, including cash; then itemizing those adjustments into cash flow categories to reflect the changes in their operating, financing, and investing activities (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). For example, a quick overview of Kodak’s Cash Flow Statement (see Exhibit A) shows that in 2005, Kodak generated $1,208 (in the millions) from operating activities that decreased about 21% in 2006 to $956 and then took a dramatic 67% drop in 2007 when they only showed that $314 was generated in cash from their operating activities. In addition, the cash statement reveals that the income generated during each of those years was reflected as a loss. In fact a closer look reveals that changes in cash occurred with positive balance results not from income that was generated, but were due to the adjustments that were made with respect to depreciation and amortization, restructuring and impairment charges, as well as increases in receivables and inventories that were reported. Regardless of the losses from income reported each year, the statement revealed that Kodak’s operating activities during that accounting period showed they generated enough cash to cover their outflow leaving them a positive ending balance each year.

Kodak’s cash flow statement also disclosed that in 2005, the net cash they collected from investing activities was reported as a loss of $1,304, (in the millions) but in 2006, they only showed a loss of $225. This means the cash they received from investing activities jumped up about 83%. In 2007 they reported a considerable profit gain of $2408. A closer look at the statement to identify the source of that gain points to their other investing activities provided from the financial notes of the report, that explained the gain was due to proceeds Kodak received from the sale of the Health Group and HPA businesses. In the meantime, the statement also shows that in 2005 the cash generated from Kodak’s financing activities revealed a profit of $533 while in 2006 those figures plummeted about 170% when they reported a loss of $947. The numbers dived even further in 2007, however, when they showed a 235% loss of $1,280.  The report revealed those losses were due to the payment of long term borrowing debt and shareholder dividends.

A general overview of the figures reported on Kodak’s cash flow statement revealed that the totals for operating, investing, and financing activities all showed positive balances at the end of each of those years. For example, in 2005 they showed a balance of $1665 that dropped down about 12% in 2006 to $1469. In 2007 however, the cash balance at the end of that year was reported at $2,947 which reflected an impressive increase of about 101% in only one year. This result occurred due to the profits Kodak generated from their investing activities and not because of their operating or financing activities with both reported considerable cash losses.

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Conclusion

Without the use of cash flow statements, businesses risk running out of money and going bankrupt. The Kodak Company’s cash flow statement disclosed that the increases and decreases which occurred had an effect on how the company utilized their working capital that were produced from their operating activities and highly liquid short-term marketable securities, that were also considered cash equivalents. In analyzing the figures on the statement strategists could assess Kodak’s financial condition to make more effective decisions about: (a) their ability to generate future cash flow, (b) their capability to meet their cash obligations, (c) what their future external financial needs might be, (d) their success and productivity in managing their investment activities, and (e) Kodak’s effectiveness in implementing financing and investment strategies. The findings of this research disclosed that Kodak was effective during that time with their investing strategies that but that they were struggling to show considerable profit gains from their operating and financing activities. The assessment of the cash flow statement that was conducted, deduced that the Kodak Company was effective at generating and allocating working capital during that accounting period because of their investing activities, however, more productive results were required from their operating and financing activities in order to help them maneuver the organization into a better position to achieve more profitable results.

Appendix A

Assignment 4 Exhibit A

(Kodak, 2008)

References

(2008). Kodak. Washington: Securities and Exchange Commission.

Averkamp, H. (2013). Cash flow statement. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from Accounting Coach: http://www.accountingcoach.com/cash-flow-statement/explanation/1

Fraser, L., & Ormiston, A. (2010). Understanding financial statements. Pearson Education.

Friedlob, G., & Plewa, F. (1995). Understanding cash flow. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tracy, J., & Tracy, T. (2012). Cash flow for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Analyzing the Statement of Cash Flows

Published December 11, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Business owners do not want to run into cash flow problems while running their businesses. It can hold up payroll, delay paying debts, and ruin a company’s reputation. Tracy and Tracy (2012) posit that when suppliers and creditors find out about cash problems, a company’s credibility tends to drop. Running out of cash is not just a life changing event for an organization it can be the end of a company’s life (Tracy & Tracy, 2012).  To prepare a statement of cash flow the re-arranging of data provided on a company’s balance sheet is required. A balance sheet must always balance out; cash flow statements, in the meantime, provide data about cash receipts and payments to the company and how they relate to the company’s operations, investments and financing activities. Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain that the company’s balance sheet reflects bookkeeping totals at the end of an accounting period and that cash flow statements use those balances to identify changes during that specific accounting period (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). In short, cash statements calculate all the changes that occur in the balance sheets by segregating the cash inflows and outflows and are used as a tool to analyze a firm’s operating, financing, and investing activities.

Techno Company Cash Flow Statement

Techno Cash Flow

Net income differs from operating cash flows for various reasons. One reason includes non-cash expenses that occur from the depreciation and amortization of intangible assets. To illustrate these concepts we will examine the Techno Company’s cash flow statement for the 2008 and 2009 accounting period (pictured above). The statement reports net income figures of around $242 (in the thousands) for 2008 and $316 in 2009. However after including depreciation, amortization, and deferred taxes those balances elevated to around $328 in 2008 and $400 in 2009. This is because depreciation and amortization do not require cash outlays and are considered indirect methods of calculating cash flow. In other words, they reduce income, but have no effect on net cash flows. Another reason net income differs from operating cash flows is due to the various time differences that exist between the recognition of revenue and expense, as opposed to the actual occurrence of cash inflows. For example, in examining Techno’s cash flow activities, the 2009 accounts receivable figures reveal an increase from the 2008 figures and are calculated as deductions. This indicates that further revenue from sales was included in the net income figures than had been collected from consumers in the form of cash. Another reason the net income figures are different from operating cash flows is because of the non-operating gains and losses that are also calculated into these figures. In this respect, the related cash flows are recognized as a result of the investment and financing activities, and not from operating activities. Techno’s cash flow amounts shows that their gains have been deducted from the net income amounts and that their losses were added to the net income figures to determine their operating cash flows.

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Cash managers today must know how to extend credit and collect cash efficiently. Frielob and Plewa (1995) suggest that today’s cash managers must not only deal with the traditional areas of collection and disbursement, they are also immersed in the company’s investment decisions, banking relationships and forecasting. In other words, they are closely scrutinized and judged on how well they manage a company’s earnings and cash flow (Friedlob & Plewa, 1995). In examining Techno’s cash flows for years 2008 and 2009, we can see that during this accounting period the company generated enough cash from operations to cover their investing activities and they increased their cash account by 141%. This reveals an effective cash management system that exhibits the firm: (a) was capable of generating future cash flows, (b) was able to meet their cash obligations, (c) successfully produced and managed their investments, and (d) had effective financing and investment strategies. In analyzing Techno’s financial and cash flow statements we can assess the solvency of the business to help us evaluate their ability to generate positive cash flows that pay their dividends while they continue to experience financial growth.

References:

Fraser, L., & Ormiston, A. (2010). Understanding financial statements. Pearson Education.

Friedlob, G., & Plewa, F. (1995). Understanding cash flow. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tracy, J., & Tracy, T. (2012). Cash flow for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Statement of Cash Flows

Published December 9, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Water tap dripping dollar bills, Water waste concept

In order to operate a company successfully, leaders must implement cash flow management systems. This helps them work with banks and financial institutions more effectively to collect, borrow, and invest their revenue to conduct business efficiently and profitably. Tracy and Tracy (2012) assert that for owners, one of the most important elements in running a business is maintaining an adequate cash balance to make sure the company does not run out of money. To control cash inflow and outflow, managers devise systems to monitor and control these components. Cash flow statements provide information that lists how a company generated their cash and how they dispersed it. In this context, cash flow refers to the generating of incoming cash and the allocation of outgoing cash (Tracy & Tracy, 2012). Another way to look at the company’s cash flow is to consider it the bloodline of the company’s business affairs. In other words, a company’s cash needs to be in continuous circulation to avoid casualties. The first rule of thumb is to make sure it does not run out, the same way a person does not run out of blood, in spite of devising short term cash flow life-support solutions. In short, without some kind of effective cash management strategy in place, the outcomes can become extremely detrimental for a firm.

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Income statements reveal changes that transpire in the financial condition of an organization during a certain time frame but they do not explain all the changes that occur.  For example, Friedlob and Plewa (1995) purport that working capital accounts like inventory or accounts receivable have an impact on the company’s liquidity, however, this information does not appear on an income statement. Furthermore, a company’s financial condition can change considerably if their mortgage gets paid off or stock is issued in exchange for land. These are all examples of activities that do not affect the income statement (Friedlob & Plewa, 1995). To help identify these issues, cash flow statements provide information to analysts that disclose how changes in working capital affects cash from operations that produced income including: (a) delivering or producing goods for sale, (b) providing services, and (c) other transactions or events. In short, cash flow statements provide valuable information that discloses how a company managed cash inflows so that analysts can determine how they sought or granted credit, how they collected their revenue and whether it was allocated effectively.

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Cash flow statements reveal how well a company managed the earning potential of their cash. In order to continue operating, companies must have enough cash to run their business. This includes having enough revenue to purchase inventory to satisfy consumer needs, pay their debts and operating expenses, as well as meet the requirements of their investment activities.  Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain that investing activities are also included on cash flow statements and provide valuable information on: (a) the purchase and sale of securities that are not cash equivalents and productive assets with long term benefits; and (b) lending money and loan collection revenue. Financing actions listed, on the other hand, include the borrowing of funds from creditors and paying off debt principals while obtaining resources from owners that provide them with returns on their investment (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). This information is significant to creditors, investors, and cash managers who are concerned with liquidity. Effective cash management systems help companies avoid cash flow issues to ensure they are generating a healthy stream of cash required to operate efficiently and earn a profit. An income statement alone does not report how much of sales revenue collected were in the form of cash during a specific accounting period. In addition, the bottom line profit numbers on income statements do not indicate the increase of cash for making a profit. In reality, a company’s cash flow can be about the same, or alternatively can be considerably higher or lower than the profit figures  that are reported on income statements. It is for this reason that analysts look to cash flow statements to get a better picture of how a company utilized their working capital.

References:

Fraser, L., & Ormiston, A. (2010). Understanding financial statements. Pearson Education.

Friedlob, G., & Plewa, F. (1995). Understanding cash flow. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tracy, J., & Tracy, T. (2012). Cash flow for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.