Understanding the cash flow statement - KnowledgEquity


Cash flows – Part I: Understanding the cash flow statement

Courtney Clowes Director e: [email protected] w: www.keq.com.au

© KnowledgEquity 2014

Introduction You may be making a profit – that is a great start. But are you making enough to pay dividends as well as pay off your long term debts? Do you have enough cash to invest in future improvements? Many people look at their income and balance sheet at least on a monthly basis – but not many spend time looking at their cash flow statement. Often this is because their accounting system does not automatically provide it, or they don’t understand what they are looking at.

What it can tell you It is important you take the time to get familiar with this statement as it can tell you some very useful things: How well you turn profits into cash How well placed you are to invest in future improvements Whether you are running your assets into the ground Your ability to generate enough cash to pay dividends and also pay off long-term debt A cash flow statement is quite logical and easy to read. There are three main components that split the business up into day-to-day operations, infrastructure investments, and financing of the business. Simplified cash flow statement Operating cash flows Cash received from customers


Cash paid to employees and suppliers


Investing cash flows Cash paid to buy long term assets Cash received from the sale of long term assets

($20,000) $5,000

Financing cash flows Borrowings received from lenders


Dividends paid to shareholders


Net cash flows

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Day-to-day operations This section answers some critical questions: 1) Do we sell our products or services for more than they cost? 2) Are we collecting our revenues? 3) How much cash is left over from day-to-day business to pay debts and dividends? Section 1: Cash flow from operations Cash receipts from customers (Cash payments to suppliers) (Cash payments to employees) Interest received (Interest paid) (Taxes paid) Net cash from operations

Profit & loss equivalent Revenue (Cost of sales and general expenses) (Wages expenses) Interest income (Interest expenses) (Tax expenses) Net profit

If you do not have positive operating cash flows this indicates the business is facing significant problems.

WARNING If cash receipts are significantly lower than revenues, you may have poor systems for collecting cash or some serious bad debts (or else someone could be cooking the books). WARNING WARNING WARNING If you have good profits but negative cash from operations you have a very big problem – You are declaring profits but they don’t really exist.

Compare the results for 2012 for Qantas and Tiger airlines

Cash receipts


$ millions

$ millions









Dividends received



Income tax





Cash payments Interest received Interest paid

Net cash from operating activities

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Immediately we can see that Tiger is in a difficult position. It is paying out more to employees and suppliers than it is receiving from customers which is not sustainable. Meanwhile Qantas has generated nearly $2 billion in cash.

Long term investments in assets A business has assets used for day-to-day trading (such as cash, inventory and debtors). These are called current assets in the balance sheet. It also has long term assets that provide infrastructure for the business. These include property, plant, equipment, furniture, computers and vehicles. These are usually called NonCurrent Assets in the balance sheet. The investing section shows what non-current assets such as property, plant, equipment and land have been purchased or sold during the period. This information is not shown in the income statement, but still has an important impact on both our current cash position and our future ability to be competitive. This section helps us focus on two main items: 1) Are we investing in new assets to replace those that are becoming obsolete? 2) Are we selling off ‘infrastructure’ to generate cash because we are struggling? Section 2: Cash flow from investing Cash receipts from sale of infrastructure assets (Cash payments for purchase of infrastructure assets) Net cash from investing activities

Balance sheet equivalent Decrease in NCA balances Increase in NCA balances

Compare the results for 2012 for Qantas and Tiger airlines

Purchase of property, plant & equipment, and intangible assets Proceeds from disposal of property, plant & equipment Other Net cash from investing activities



$ millions

$ millions









We can see that both companies have a negative cash result in this section. This may appear a poor result, but actually this is usually a positive outcome. The focus here is on investing in quality assets for future growth and performance. Qantas has purchased over $2 billion of assets, and these will include the super efficient Boeing Dreamliner and A380 Airbus. This will lead to greater revenues and lower costs in the future, making them more competitive.

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Financing the business The third section shows us how the business is financed. How much debt is being borrowed or repaid, as well as any equity injections by owners or dividend payments. We can investigate: 1) Are we repaying debts when required? 2) Are our dividend levels appropriate? Section 3: Cash flow from financing

Balance sheet equivalent

Cash receipts from borrowings Cash receipts from raising equity (Cash payments to pay off debts) (Cash dividend payments to shareholders) Net cash from financing activities

Loan balances – increasing Equity (capital) balances increasing Loan balances – decreasing Equity (retained profits) balance decreasing

Compare the results for 2012 for Qantas and Tiger airlines Qantas


$ millions

$ millions










Net cash from financing activities



Proceeds from borrowings Proceeds from issuing new equity Repayments of borrowings

Here we can see that Tiger is raising significant amounts of money to finance its business. It needs to do this because it is losing money in its day-to-day operations and also investing heavily in new assets.

Conclusion In Part I we have looked at how a cash flow statement is constructed and presented. A monthly review of your cash flow statement, along with your income statement and balance will give you useful insights into how your organisation is performing. In Part II we will look at how we can examine the cash flow statement in more detail to highlight particular problems. If you would like help creating or analysing your organisation’s cash flows please contact [email protected] © KnowledgEquity 2014



Understanding the cash flow statement - KnowledgEquity

Cash flows – Part I: Understanding the cash flow statement Courtney Clowes Director e: [email protected] w: www.keq.com.au © KnowledgEquity 2014 ...

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