One of the quarterly financial reports any publicly traded company is required to disclose to the SEC and the public. The document provides aggregate data regarding all cash inflows a company receives from both its ongoing operations and external investment sources, as well as all cash outflows that pay for business activities and investments during a given quarter
An accounting statement called the “statement of cash flows”, which shows the amount of cash generated and used by a company in a given period. It is calculated by adding noncash charges (such as depreciation) to net income after taxes. Cash flow can be attributed to a specific project, or to a business as a whole. Cash flow can be used as an indication of a company’s financial strength.
Because public companies tend to use accrual accounting, the income statements they release each quarter may not necessarily reflect changes in their cash positions. For example, if a company lands a major contract, this contract would be recognized as revenue (and therefore income), but the company may not yet actually receive the cash from the contract until a later date. While the company may be earning a profit in the eyes of accountants (and paying income taxes on it), the company may, during the quarter, actually end up with less cash than when it started the quarter. Even profitable companies can fail to adequately manage their cash flow, which is why the cash flow statement is important: it helps investors see if a company is having trouble with cash.
The statement of a business’s cash flows is often used by analysts to gauge financial performance. Companies with ample cash on hand are able to invest the cash back into the business in order to generate more cash and profit.