Cash Flow Statement

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What is a 'Cash Flow Statement'

A cash flow statement is 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.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cash Flow Statement'

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.

To learn more about the cash flow statement, check out How do changes in working capital affect a company's cash flow?

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