1. Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Introduction
  2. Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Operating Cash Flow/Sales Ratio
  3. Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Free Cash Flow/Operating Cash Flow Ratio
  4. Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Cash Flow Coverage Ratios
  5. Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Dividend Payout Ratio

By Richard Loth (Contact | Biography)

The free cash flow/operating cash flow ratio measures the relationship between free cash flow and operating cash flow.

Free cash flow is most often defined as operating cash flow minus capital expenditures, which, in analytical terms, are considered to be an essential outflow of funds to maintain a company's competitiveness and efficiency.

The cash flow remaining after this deduction is considered "free" cash flow, which becomes available to a company to use for expansion, acquisitions, and/or financial stability to weather difficult market conditions. The higher the percentage of free cash flow embedded in a company's operating cash flow, the greater the financial strength of the company.

Formula:


Components:


As of December 31, 2005, with amounts expressed in millions, Zimmer Holdings had free cash flow of $622.9. We calculated this figure by classifying "additions to instruments" and "additions to property, plant and equipment (PP&E)" as capital expenditures (numerator). Operating cash flow, or "net cash provided by operating activities" (denominator), is recorded at $878.2. All the numbers used in the formula are in the cash flow statement. By dividing, the equation gives us a free cash flow/operating cash flow ratio of 70.9%, which is a very high, beneficial relationship for the company.



Variations:
A more stringent, but realistic, alternative calculation of free cash flow would add the payment of cash dividends to the amount for capital expenditures to be deducted from operating cash flow. This added figure would provide a more conservative free cash flow number. Many analysts consider the outlay for a company's cash dividends just as critical as that for capital expenditures. While a company's board of directors can reduce and/or suspend paying a dividend, the investment community would, most likely, severely punish a company's stock price as a result of such an event.

Commentary:
Numerous studies have confirmed that institutional investment firms rank free cash flow ahead of earnings as the single most important financial metric used to measure the investment quality of a company. In simple terms, the larger the number the better.


Cash Flow Indicator Ratios: Cash Flow Coverage Ratios
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Evaluating A Statement Of Cash Flows

    The metrics for the Statement of Cash Flows is best viewed over time.
  2. Investing

    Analyze Cash Flow The Easy Way

    Find out how to analyze the way a company spends its money to determine whether there will be any money left for investors.
  3. Investing

    Free Cash Flow Yield: The Best Fundamental Indicator

    Cash in the bank is what every company strives to achieve. Find out how to determine how much a company is generating and keeping.
  4. Investing

    Free Cash Flow Yield: A Fundamental Indicator

    Free cash flow can measure a business’s performance as if you’re looking at its net income line.
  5. Investing

    Cash Flow Indicator Ratios

    Learn about the operating cash flow to sales ratio, free cash flow to operating cash flow ratio and free cash flow coverage ratio.
  6. Retirement

    Picking Retirement Stocks: Dividends vs. Free Cash Flow

    Instead of focusing on dividend payments, a better metric for choosing stocks for your retirement portfolio could be a company’s free cash flow (FCF).
  7. Investing

    Analyze Cash Flow The Easy Way

    Cash flow statements reveal how a company spends its money and where that money comes from.
  8. Investing

    Why Goldman Is Warning About Free Cash Flow Yield (GS)

    Learn why Goldman Sachs is alerting investors to the importance of cash flow, and discover a recommended alternative equity valuation metric to free cash flow.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Where else can I save for retirement after I max out my Roth IRA?

    The first option to explore is to determine if you can contribute to a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan at work. If your employer ...
  2. How did George Soros "break the Bank of England"?

    In Britain, Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992) is known as the day that speculators broke the pound. They didn't actually ...
  3. What counts as "debts" and "income" when calculating my debt-to-income (DTI) ratio?

    It's important to know your debt-to-income ratio because it's the figure lenders use to measure your ability to repay the ...
  4. Who are Monsanto's main competitors?

    Learn about Monsanto Company's two main operating divisions and its main competitors within each sector, including The Mosaic ...
Trading Center