Revenue

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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 Income Statement Analysis

Published December 13, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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This blog is a continuation of my examination of Kodak’s 2007 Annual Report with focus on understanding the information contained in their income statement. A company’s income statement summarizes their revenue and expenditures to reveal whether the organization is operating at a profit or loss. The income statement is a significant financial document in Kodak’s Annual Report because it discloses the top and bottom line earnings which give shareholders more information about the company’s profitability (Understanding the income statement, 2011). By analyzing this statement closely, investors can determine whether the company is operating efficiently or whether they are struggling to keep their doors open. This research will take a closer look at the annual report’s income statement to understand Kodak’s financial condition during that time to determine whether they were operating effectively and to assess their future. The study will include an analysis of the net sales figures and cost of goods to help determine their gross profit ratios. In addition the research will examine the company’s operating profit figures to identify their source of revenues and assess their profit margin levels. The findings of this research will conclude that although Kodak continued to operate at a loss in 2005 and 2006, by 2007, they revealed they still had some life left in them when their records reflected that they finally had a profitable year.

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Understanding the Income Statement

As I mentioned, income statements are important to investors because they summarize a company’s revenue and expenditures. Fraser and Ormiston (2010) suggest that the information reported on income statements can help investors determine the financial performance of an organization, but points out it is only one of many components that comprise the financial statement package to help paint a true picture of how well a company is being managed (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). Income statements are reported in two common formats: (a) a multi-step configuration that includes a variety of profit measures including gross revenue, operating profits, and before tax earnings; and (b) a single step format that combines all revenue items and expense deductions to reveal net income figures. In addition, special categories like discontinued operations and extraordinary transactions are also included on these documents so that analysts have more information to understand the broad landscape of an organization’s performance levels so that they can ascertain how efficiently the company is being managed.

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Kodak Income Statement Findings

Without income statements it is difficult for business owners to monitor and control expenditures. Ittelson (2009) postulates income statements are important because they reveal such information like how costs are spent for material and labor to create a product and whether the expenses that are allocated to develop, sell, and account for their products brings in enough revenue to cover the cost of their investments (Ittelson, 2009). For example, Kodak’s income statement (see Exhibit A) indicates that during the accounting period from 2005 to 2007 net sales continued to plummet. In 2005, they reported net sales figures of $11,395 (in the millions) which decreased by 7% in 2006 ($10,568) and dipped even lower in 2007 ($10,301) when figures dropped down another 3%. This means that during that three year accounting period, Kodak’s sale figures dropped a total of almost 10%. In the meantime, the net profit figure during that three year period showed significant changes. For instance, in 2005, net profit numbers indicate that Kodak experienced a loss of $1,261 (in the millions). In 2006, net profit outcomes still showed that the firm was operating at a loss ($601) however, the loss revealed a 52% increase from the loss they reported the previous year. That means that although the company was still losing money, it was not as significant as the prior year. Finally, in 2007, Kodak reported a profit for first time during that accounting period of $676. This indicates the Kodak Company experienced a 153% increase in net profits during that three year period. Those are impressive figures and at first glance can give shareholders hope. Upon closer examination, however, the income statement reveals that the increase in net profit was due to discontinued operations. This means that Kodak did not achieve their profit gains from net sales. In truth, their earnings were the result of selling off portions of the business, and in doing so by 2007 their bookkeeping records allowed them to report a net profit of $676.

Taking a closer look at Kodak’s gross profit figures in 2006, after the cost of goods were calculated, the numbers revealed a loss of 5% from that of 2005. In 2007, the gross profit amounts indicate an increase of about 4%, however the figures revealed Kodak earned a profit that year due to revenue they received from discontinued operations. In the meantime, the income statement disclosed their profit margins as well, which also help investors identify the real sources that contributed to the company’s revenue. For example, in 2005, Kodak’s profit margins for net sales were only 22%, rose slightly to 23% in 2006 and ended at 24% in 2007. This tells investors that the majority of net sales were allocated to honor Kodak’s debts and that the company was unable to achieve a large enough profit margin to make gains from net sales. The income statement also revealed that the reason Kodak reported a profit by 2007 was because of the revenue they received from discontinued operations. This scenario does not paint a stable operating picture of the company to help investors feel confident that Kodak could again become the highly profitable photo imaging giant it once was.

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Conclusion

Income statements reveal a company’s profits and overall financial condition. They help strategists determine whether a firm is operating in the red or in the black. Alvarez and Fridson (2011) explain that shareholders are looking to profit from their investments and maximize their wealth. Income statement analyses provide valuable information that determines whether a company is operating effectively by comparing the data from earlier periods. By examining the data on income statements investors can ascertain if a firm is stable enough to invest in. In addition, these statements provide information that lets analysts know whether a company’s profitability is highly sensitive to changes in material costs and labor that make up the cost of goods they sell (Alvarez & Fridson, 2011). Kodak’s income statements summarized the company’s revenue and expenditures during a three year period, providing ratio information that revealed it took the firm a few years to change their operating status from showing losses and that by the end of 2007, they finally experienced considerable gains in revenue to report a profit. However, a closer analysis of the income statement figures exposed that the revenue Kodak received was because of discontinued operations. In other words, the company showed a profit that year because they sold portions of the business and that during that accounting period, they did not report any operating profits. In conclusion, the findings of this research deduced that although the Kodak Company showed a profit in 2007, it was because the firm continued to sell off portions of the company not because of sales revenue. This suggests that the iconic organization wasn’t out of the woods financially during that time and still had a way to go before shareholders could consider it a profitable venture once again.

Exhibit A

 Assignment 3 Exhibit A

(Kodak, 2008)

References

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

Understanding the income statement. (2011, October 10). Retrieved November 15, 2013, from Investopedia.com: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/04/022504.asp

Alvarez, F., & Fridson, M. (2011). Financial statement analysis: A practioner’s guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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

Ittelson, T. (2009). Financial statements: A step-by-step guide. Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Analyzing an Income Statement

Published December 6, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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The goal of analyzing an income statement is to determine whether a company is operating effectively and making a profit.  Alvarez and Fridson (2011) suggest that to achieve this objective, the analyst must draw their conclusions by comparing the information from an earlier period as well as from examining statements of other companies in the industry. This helps give a better picture as to how well an organization is performing and how well they measure in terms of their competition (Alvarez & Fridson, 2011). To help us understand the concepts more effectively, we can examine the data provided from the Elf Corporation’s Income statement (see Exhibit A) to ascertain whether the figures reveal overall if they had better sales in 2010 than in 2008. For example, the statement shows that their sales figures increased 18% in 2009 from the 2008 figures and jumped another 8% in 2010. This means the company showed a total sales increase of 27% during that three year period. In the meantime, the cost of goods sold reflects the same percentage increases during that period. This indicates that the sales increase resulted from the amount of units sold, not due to a higher cost of goods. In addition, the statement shows that they decreased their advertising expenses. In 2008 for instance, the company invested 14% of their revenue to advertising costs that decreased to 11% in 2009 and dropped down to 7% in 2010. This may suggest that their brand may have become more recognizable and management decided to reduce advertising costs to maximize profit margins. The statement also exhibits that there was no change in the amount of expenses that were allocated for administrative costs which remained the same rate during that three year period. However, administrative costs expose a 4% decrease over that time because of the rising sales levels.

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Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain that a company’s operating profit margin measures the overall performance of the company’s operations and provides the basis for determining the success of a firm (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). The Elf Corporation’s income statement for instance, indicates a steady increase during that three year period with respect to their operating profits. This signals an increase from 18% of the company’s sales revenue in 2008 to 29% in 2010. This ratio suggests that the company experienced a steady strengthening in their returns. Other expenses incurred where interest amounts paid on the firm’s debts. For example, in 2008, the company paid 5% in interest expenses which rose to 8% in 2009 and 10% in 2010. This means that as profits rose, more funds were available for debt commitments. In addition, the statement also shows that the revenue the company collected before income taxes also reflected a steady increase during that three year period. For instance, in 2010 Elf’s earnings revealed an increase of 24% from that of 2008. Finally, the last item on the income statement shows the company’s bottom line, their earnings or the net income they profited after all revenue and expenses were deducted. These figures indicate a steady increase that began at 6% in 2008 and rose to 9% by 2010. My brief analysis of the Elf Corporation’s income statement concluded that the company continued to show a steady increase in profit from the 2008 to 2010 accounting period.

Exhibit A

Elf Corporation Income Statements for the Years Ending December 31

ELF

References:

Alvarez, F., & Fridson, M. (2011). Financial statement analysis: A practioner’s guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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

 

Income Statements

Published December 4, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Corporations exist for the benefit of their shareholders. Comprehending financial statements is an essential skill that can help investors and creditors make more effective decisions with respect to investment management and commercial lending. Alvarez and Fridson (2011) explain that because corporate financial statements are difficult to understand strategists must have a comprehensive knowledge of how to read the data that is contained within these financial statements. The objective of these reports is not to educate the public about a firm’s financial situation. Their goal rather, is to maximize the wealth of their shareholders. In other words, financial statements serve to help leaders develop more effective methods to maximize shareholder wealth while reducing the cost (or interest rate) at which they can borrow and in turn, sell shares of stock at higher rates to generate more wealth for the shareholders (Alvarez & Fridson, 2011). In short, the main objective of financial reports is to help corporations acquire inexpensive capital.

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Financial report Income statements provide a picture that helps analysts determine a company’s profitability. Ittelson (2009) postulates that in order to understand the information that is contained within these statements the reader must first have a better understanding of the item terms they contain. For instance, the terms sales and revenue are identified as the income statement’s top line and are used to measure the capital a company receives from their consumers. The terms profitsearnings, and income on the other hand, are used to measure the company’s bottom line and reflects the amount of capital that is left over as revenue after expenses are deducted. Simply put, revenue is the top line of the income statement while income is considered the bottom line (Ittelson, 2009). Understanding the these terms more clearly can help make it easier for individuals to extract information that is pertinent to them.

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Sales, in the meantime, are considered a major source of revenue for a firm and income statements are utilized to provide analysts a means to measure and assess a company’s operating performance because they help paint a better picture of a firm’s earnings. Fraser and Ormiston (2010) explain for instance, that earnings on income statements provide data for several years. This allows strategists to observe and compare changes and trends that occur over a given period of time (Fraser & Ormiston, 2010). For example, there are two significant causes that can effect changes in sales numbers: (a) price increases and (b) liquidity of sales units. When a company’s sales increase for instance, analysts must determine whether the change occurred due to price increases, volume activity changes, or a combination of both. In other words, strategists use this information to determine whether sales figures are increasing due to price hikes, the movement or liquidity of large volumes of units, or whether it resulted from of a combination of both factors. Generally, as a rule, higher earnings result from moving large units of stock. Another reason could be that higher prices were implemented to keep up with the expanding rates of inflation. Sales figures can also become affected by a cost flow assumption that some accountants used to value inventory. For example, some companies use the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method to report sales and inventory. This strategy allows the last purchases a company makes during the year appear as an expense on their income statements and is reflected on the statement to show higher-quality production earnings. Because of these kinds of strategies, income statements must be assessed accurately to help analysts determine the true picture of the revenue, expenses, and earnings of an organization with an awareness of the imperfections of the accounting system implemented by the manipulation of bookkeepers intended on distorting a firm’s economic reality to impress potential investors.

References:

Alvarez, F., & Fridson, M. (2011). Financial statement analysis: A practioner’s guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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

Ittelson, T. (2009). Financial statements: A step-by-step guide. Amazon Digital Services, Inc.