Operating Cash Flow - OCF

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DEFINITION of 'Operating Cash Flow - OCF'

In accounting, a measure of the amount of cash generated by a company's normal business operations. Operating cash flow is important because it indicates whether a company is able to generate sufficient positive cash flow to maintain and grow its operations, or whether it may require external financing. OCF is calculated by adjusting net income for items such as depreciation, changes to accounts receivable and changes in inventory.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Operating Cash Flow - OCF'

Financial analysts sometimes prefer to look at cash flow metrics because it strips away certain accounting effects and is thought to provide a clearer picture of the current reality of the business operations. For example, booking a large sale provides a big boost to revenue, but if the company is having a hard time collecting the cash, then it is not a true economic benefit to the company. On the other hand, a company may be highly profitable on a cash flow basis, but may not have a low net income if it has a lot of fixed assets and uses accelerated depreciation calculations.

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