FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND CASH
Answers to Concepts Review and Critical Thinking Questions
Liquidity measures how quickly and easily an asset can be converted to cash without significant loss
in value. It’s desirable for firms to have high liquidity so that they have a large factor of safety in
meeting short-term creditor demands. However, since liquidity also has an opportunity cost
associated with it - namely that higher returns can generally be found by investing the cash into
productive assets - low liquidity levels are also desirable to the firm. It’s up to the firm’s financial
management staff to find a reasonable compromise between these opposing needs
The recognition and matching principles in financial accounting call for revenues, and the costs
associated with producing those revenues, to be “booked” when the revenue process is essentially
complete, not necessarily when the cash is collected or bills are paid. Note that this way is not
necessarily correct; it’s the way accountants have chosen to do it.
The bottom line number shows the change in the cash balance on the balance sheet. As such, it is not
a useful number for analyzing a company.
The major difference is the treatment of interest expense. The accounting statement of cash flows
treats interest as an operating cash flow, while the financial cash flows treat interest as a financing
cash flow. The logic of the accounting statement of cash flows is that since interest appears on the
income statement, which shows the operations for the period, it is an operating cash flow. In reality,
interest is a financing expense, which results from the company’s choice of debt/equity. We will
have more to say about this in a later chapter. When comparing the two cash flow statements, the
financial statement of cash flows is a more appropriate measure of the company’s performance
because of its treatment of interest.
Market values can never be negative. Imagine a share of stock selling for –$20. This would mean
that if you placed an order for 100 shares, you would get the stock along with a check for $2,000.
How many shares do you want to buy? More generally, because of corporate and individual
bankruptcy laws, net worth for a person or a corporation cannot be negative, implying that liabilities
cannot exceed assets in market value.
For a successful company that is rapidly expanding, for example, capital outlays will be large,
possibly leading to negative cash flow from assets. In general, what matters is whether the money is
spent wisely, not whether cash flow from assets is positive or negative.
It’s probably not a good sign for an established company, but it would be fairly ordinary for a start-
up, so it depends.