The Statement of Cash Flows

Purposes of the statement of cash flows

The main purpose of the statement of cash flows is to report on the cash receipts and cash disbursements of an entity during an accounting period. Broadly defined, cash includes both cash and cash equivalents, such as short-term investments in Treasury bills, commercial paper, and money market funds. Another purpose of this statement is to report on the entity’s investing and financing activities for the period. As shown in Exhibit 1, the statement of cash flows reports the effects on cash during a period of a company’s operating, investing, and financing activities. Firms show the effects of significant investing and financing activities that do not affect cash in a schedule separate from the statement of cash flows.



Uses of the statement of cash flows

The statement of cash flows summarizes the effects on cash of the operating, investing, and financing activities of a company during an accounting period; it reports on past management decisions on such matters as issuance of capital stock or the sale of long-term bonds. This information is available only in bits and pieces from the other financial statements. Since cash flows are vital to a company’s financial health, the statement of cash flows provides useful information to management, investors, creditors, and other interested parties.

The statement of cash flows presents the effects on cash of all significant operating, investing, and financing activities. By reviewing the statement, management can see the effects of its past major policy decisions in quantitative form. The statement may show a flow of cash from operating activities large enough to finance all projected capital needs internally rather than having to incur long-term debt or issue additional stock. Alternatively, if the company has been experiencing cash shortages, management can use the statement to determine why such shortages are occurring. Using the statement of cash flows, management may also recommend to the board of directors a reduction in dividends to conserve cash.

Information in the statement of cash flows

The statement of cash flows classifies cash receipts and disbursements as operating, investing, and financing cash flows. Both inflows and outflows are included within each category. Look at Exhibit 2 to see how activities can be classified to prepare a statement of cash flows.

Operating activities generally include the cash effects (inflows and outflows) of transactions and other events that enter into the determination of net income. Cash inflows from operating activities affect items that appear on the income statement and include: (1) cash receipts from sales of goods or services; (2) interest received from making loans; (3) dividends received from investments in equity securities; (4) cash received from the sale of trading securities; and (5) other cash receipts that do not arise from transactions defined as investing or financing activities, such as amounts received to settle lawsuits, proceeds of certain insurance settlements, and cash refunds from suppliers.

Cash outflows for operating activities affect items that appear on the income statement and include payments: (1) to acquire inventory; (2) to other suppliers and employees for other goods or services; (3) to lenders and other creditors for interest; (4) for purchases of trading securities; and (5) all other cash payments that do not arise from transactions defined as investing or financing activities, such as taxes and payments to settle lawsuits, cash contributions to charities, and cash refunds to customers.

Investing activities generally include transactions involving the acquisition or disposal of noncurrent assets. Thus, cash inflows from investing activities include cash received from: (1) the sale of property, plant, and equipment; (2) the sale of available-for-sale and held-to-maturity securities; and (3) the collection of long-term loans made to others. Cash outflows for investing activities include cash paid: (1) to purchase property, plant, and equipment; (2) to purchase available-for-sale and held-to-maturity securities; and (3) to make long-term loans to others.

Financing activities generally include the cash effects (inflows and outflows) of transactions and other events involving creditors and owners. Cash inflows from financing activities include cash received from issuing capital stock and bonds, mortgages, and notes, and from other short- or long-term borrowing. Cash outflows for financing activities include payments of cash dividends or other distributions to owners (including cash paid to purchase treasury stock) and repayments of amounts borrowed. Payment of interest is not included because interest expense appears on the income statement and is, therefore, included in operating activities. Cash payments to settle accounts payable, wages payable, and income taxes payable are not financing activities. These payments are included in the operating activities section.

Information about all material investing and financing activities of an enterprise that do not result in cash receipts or disbursements during the period appear in a separate schedule, rather than in the statement of cash flows. The disclosure may be in narrative form. For instance, assume a company issued a mortgage note to acquire land and buildings.

Steps in preparing statement of cash flows

Accountants follow specific procedures when preparing a statement of cash flows. After determining the change in cash, the first step in preparing the statement of cash flows is to calculate the cash flows from operating activities, using either the direct or indirect method. The second step is to analyze all of the noncurrent accounts and additional data for changes resulting from investing and financing activities. The third step is to arrange the information gathered in steps 1 and 2 into the proper format for the statement of cash flows.

The direct method converts the income statement from the accrual basis to the cash basis. Accountants must consider changes in balance sheet accounts that are related to items on the income statement. The accounts involved are all current assets or current liabilities.  We will examine each step in the following sections.

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