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    Cash flow statement purposes

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    The primary purpose of a statement of cash flows is to provide relevant information about the cash receipts and cash payments of a company during a specific time period. The other financial statements do not provide any information related to the cash flows of the company. Thus, the Financial Accounting Standards Board requires that a Statement of Cash Flows be prepared and presented with the other financial statements.
    There are three primary sections that comprise the Statement of Cash Flows. What are the three sections and explain what each is used for? Why is the Cash Flow Statement a cash-basis statement while the other three are Accrual based?

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    Three major financial statements are ordinarily required for external reports―an income statement, a balance sheet, and a statement of cash flows. The purpose of the statement of cash flow is to highlight the major activities that directly and indirectly impact cash flows and hence affect the overall cash balance. Managers focus on cash for a very good reason―without sufficient cash balance at the right time, a company may miss golden opportunities or may even fall into bankruptcy. The cash flow statement answers questions that cannot be answered by the income statement and a balance sheet. For example a statement of cash flows can be used to answer questions like where did the company get the cash to pay dividend of nearly $140 million in a year in which, according to income statement, it lost more than $1 billion? To answer such questions, familiarity with the statement of cash flows is required.

    The statement of cash flows is a valuable analytical tool for managers as well as for investors and creditors, although managers tend to be more concerned with forecasted statements of cash flows that are prepared as a part of the budgeting process. The statement of cash flows can be used to answer crucial questions such as the following:

    Is the company generating sufficient positive cash flows from its ongoing operations to remain viable?
    Will the company be able to repay its debts?
    Will the company be able to pay its usual dividends?
    Why is there a difference between net income and net cash flow for the year?
    To what extent will the company have to borrow money in order to make needed investments?
    For the statement of cash flows to be useful to managers and others, it is important that companies employ a common definition of cash. It is also important that a statement be constructed using consistent guidelines for identifying activities that are sources of cash and uses of cash. The proper definition of cash and the guidelines to use in identifying sources are discussed in coming paragraphs.

    Definition of Cash:

    In preparing a statement of cash flows, the term cash is broadly defined to include both cash and cash equivalents. Cash equivalents consist of short term, highly liquid investments such as treasury bills, commercial paper, and money market funds that are made solely for the purpose of generating a return on temporary idle funds. Instead of simply holding cash, most companies invest their excess cash reserves in these types of interest bearing assets that can be easily converted into cash. These short term liquid investments are usually included in marketable securities on the balance sheet. Since such assets are equivalent to cash, they are included with cash in preparing a statement of cash flows

    Sections of cash flow statement:

    The cash flow statement is usually divided into three sections: Operating, investing and financing activities.

    Operating Activities:

    Operating activities involve the cash effects of transactions that enter into the determination of net income, such as cash receipts from sales of goods and services and cash payments to suppliers and employees for acquisition of inventory and expenses

    Investing Activities:

    Investing activities generally involve long term assets and include (a) making and collecting loans (b) acquiring and disposing of investments and productive long lived assets.

    Financing Activities:

    Financing activities involve liability and stock holder's equity items and include obtaining cash from creditors and repaying the amounts borrowed and obtaining capital from owners and providing them with a return on, and a return of, their investment. Below is the typical classification of of cash receipts and payments according to operating, investing and financing activities.

    Operating Activities:
    Cash inflows:
    From sales of goods or services.
    From return on loans (interest) and on equity securities. dividends
    Cash outflows:
    To suppliers for inventories.
    To employees ...

    Solution Summary

    The purpose of cash flow statements are examined.