DEFINITION of 'Balance Sheet'
A financial statement that summarizes a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time. These three balance sheet segments give investors an idea as to what the company owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by the shareholders.
The balance sheet must follow the following formula:
Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders' Equity
INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Balance Sheet'
It's called a balance sheet because the two sides balance out. This makes sense: a company has to pay for all the things it has (assets) by either borrowing money (liabilities) or getting it from shareholders (shareholders' equity).
Each of the three segments of the balance sheet will have many accounts within it that document the value of each. Accounts such as cash, inventory and property are on the asset side of the balance sheet, while on the liability side there are accounts such as accounts payable or long-term debt. The exact accounts on a balance sheet will differ by company and by industry, as there is no one set template that accurately accommodates for the differences between different types of businesses.
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