What is a Cash Flow Statement? | Example of Cash Flow Statement - Zoho Books (2024)

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What is a cash flow statement?

A cash flow statement is an important tool used to manage finances by tracking the cash flow for an organization. This statement is one of the three key reports (with the income statement and the balance sheet) that help in determining a company’s performance.It is usually helpful for making cash forecast to enable short term planning.

The cash flow statement shows the source of cash and helps you monitor incoming and outgoing money.Incoming cash for a business comes from operating activities, investing activities and financial activities. The statement also informs about cash outflows, expenses paid for business activities and investment at a given point in time.The information that you get from the cash flow statement is beneficial for the management to take informed decisions for regulating business operations.

Companies generally aim for a positive cash flow for their business operations without which the company may have to borrow money to keep the business going.

Importance of a cash flow statement

Fora business to be successful,it should always have sufficient cash. Thisenables it to pay backbank loans, buycommodities, or investto get profitable returns. A business isdeclared bankruptif itdoesn’t have enough cash to pay itsdebts. Here are some of the benefits of a cash flow statement:

  • Gives details about spending: A cash flow statement gives a clear understanding of the principal payments that the company makes to its creditors. It also shows transactions which are recorded in cash and not reflected in the other financial statements. These include purchases of items for inventory, extending credit to customers, and buying capital equipment.

  • Helps maintain optimum cash balance: A cash flow statement helps in maintaining the optimum level of cashon hand. It is important for the company to determine iftoo much of its cash is lying idle, or if there’s a shortage or excess of funds.Ifthere isexcess cash lying idle, then the business can use it to investin shares or buy inventory. If there is a shortage of funds, the company can look for sources from where they can borrow funds to keep the business going.

  • Helps you focus on generating cash: Profit plays a key role in the growth of a company by generating cash. But there are severalother ways to generate cash.For instance, whena company finds a way to payless for equipment,it isactually generating cash. Everytimeit collects receivables fromits customers quicker thanusual,it isgainingcash.

  • Useful for short-term planning: A cash flow statement is an important tool for controlling cash flow. A successful business must always have sufficient liquid cash to fulfill short-term obligations like upcoming payments.A financial manager can analyze incoming and outgoing cash from past transactions to make crucial decisions. Some situations where decisions have to be made based on the cash flow include forseeing cash deficit to pay off debts or establishing a base to request for credit from banks.

Format of a cash flow statement

There are three sections in a cash flow statement: operating activities, investments, and financial activities.

Operating activities: Operating activities are those cash flow activities that either generate revenue or record the money spent on producing a product or service. Operational business activities include inventory transactions, interest payments, tax payments, wages to employees, and payments for rent. Any other form of cash flow, such as investments, debts, and dividends are not included in this section.

The operations section on the cash flow statement begins with recording net earnings, whichare obtained from the net income field on thecompany’sincome statement.This gives an estimate of the company’s profitability.After this, it lists non-cash items involving operational activities and convert them into cash items. A business’ cash flow statement should show adequate positive cash flow for its operational activities. If it doesn’t, the business may find it difficult to manage its daily business operations.

Investment activities:The second section on the cash flow statement records the gains and losses caused due to investmentin assets like property, plant, or equipment (PPE)thus reflecting overall change in the cash position for a company. When analysts want to know the company’s investment on PPE, they check for changes on a cash flow statement.

Capital expenditure (CapEx) is another important line item under investment activities. CapEx is the money which a business invests on fixed assets like buildings, vehicles or land. An increase in CapEx means the company is investing on future operations. However, it also shows that there is a decrease in company cash flow.

Sometimes a company may experience negative cash flow due to heavy investment expenditure, but this is not alwaysan indicator of poor performance, because it may be leading tohigh capital growth.

Financial activities: The third section on the cash flow statementrecords the cash flow between the company and its owners and creditors. Financial activitiesincludetransactions involving debt, equity, and dividends. In these transactions, incoming cash is recorded when capital is raised(such as from investors or banks),and outgoing cash is recorded when dividends are paid.

Cash flow statement example

Following is an example ofwhat acash flow statement looks like. This is the cash flow statement forXYZ company at the end of Financial Year (FY)2018.

What is a Cash Flow Statement? | Example of Cash Flow Statement - Zoho Books (1)

From the above example, we can see that the computed cash flow for FY 2018 was $ 2,528,000. Let’s look at what each section is showing.

Operating activities: Inthis section,we canseeincoming cash valuesrecorded as positive while outgoing cash values are negative and are usually represented in brackets. When you subtract the outgoing value from the incoming value, you arrive at the netcash flow for operating activities.In this example, we can see that the net value for operating activitiesis positive, which is a good sign for investors.

Investing activities: Since the core operating activities are generating income, the business can now investin equipment.Because the company is investing $500,000in equipment, itscash flow in this section is negative.This negative value isn’t a bad thing—you can say thatthe company’s capacity to investinPPE reflects its growth.

Financial activities: After investing in equipment, the company still has $10,000 to pay off its debts—in this case, notes payable. Besides this the company will still have plentiful to cover its loans in future.

Net cash flow: When you add all three net values from the three sections on the cash flow statement, you arrive at the net cash flow value, which in this case is $ 2,528,000. This shows that the company has enough cash to continue operating.

What is negative cash flow?

Negative cash flow is a situation where a company has more outgoing cash than incoming cash. The money thatthe company is earning from sales may not be enough to coverits expenses, andit may have to borrow from external sources to cover the differences.

Following is a small example showing negative cash flow. Here you can see that the business paid moreinexpensesthan the amount of income it brought in.

What is a Cash Flow Statement? | Example of Cash Flow Statement - Zoho Books (2)

A negative cash flow doesn’t always imply that the company’s financial performance was bad. Sometimes the company’sincomingprofitmight be good, yet there is little money in the bank to pay offdebts.Negative cash flow is common for small businesses, but it is unhealthy if itgoes on for a long period.


A cash flow statement is a valuable document for a company, as itshows whether the business has enough liquid cash to pay its dues and investin assets.You cannot interpret a company’s performancejustbylooking at the cash flow statement.You may need to analyse long term trends after referring to balance sheet and income statement in order to get a somewhat clear picture of how the company isfaring.

What is a Cash Flow Statement? | Example of Cash Flow Statement - Zoho Books (2024)


What are examples of cash flow statement? ›

Example of a cash flow statement

Red dollar amounts decrease cash. For instance, when we see ($30,000) next to “Increase in inventory,” it means inventory increased by $30,000 on the balance sheet. We bought $30,000 worth of inventory, so our cash balance decreased by that amount.

What are the cash flows in the statement of cash flows? ›

A typical cash flow statement comprises three sections: cash flow from operating activities, cash flow from investing activities, and cash flow from financing activities.

Can you explain what a cash flow statement is? ›

A cash flow statement is an important tool used to manage finances by tracking the cash flow for an organization. This statement is one of the three key reports (with the income statement and the balance sheet) that help in determining a company's performance.

What is a cash flow statement Ramsey? ›

cash flow statement. A summary of all the income and outgo over a certain time period. written cash flow plan. a budget. the management by crisis, guilt, shame, fear, stress, overdrafts and overspending from your finances.

What are the 3 types of cash flow statement? ›

There are three cash flow types that companies should track and analyze to determine the liquidity and solvency of the business: cash flow from operating activities, cash flow from investing activities and cash flow from financing activities. All three are included on a company's cash flow statement.

What are the three main statements of cash flow? ›

The three main components of a cash flow statement are cash flow from operations, cash flow from investing, and cash flow from financing. The two different accounting methods, accrual accounting and cash accounting, determine how a cash flow statement is presented.

What is a cash flow statement for dummies? ›

The purpose of the statement of cash flows is to show cash sources and uses during a specific period of time — in other words, how a company brings in cash and for what costs the cash goes back out the door.

How do you prepare a cash flow statement? ›

Two methods - Indirect and Direct, result is same in cash flow statement preparation. Operating cash flow stage: Calculate operating profit before working capital changes and effect of those changes. Investing: Add cash inflows from asset sales, subtract outflows for purchases.

How do you find the cash flow statement? ›

You calculate cash flow by adjusting a company's net income through increasing or decreasing the differences in credit transactions, expenses and revenue (all of which are found on the income statements and balance sheets) between reporting periods.

Why do we need a cash flow statement? ›

The cash flow statement is a solid measure of a company's strength, profitability, and future outlook of a company. The importance of the cash flow statement is that it measures the cash inflows or cash outflows during the given period of time. This knowledge informs the company's short- and long-term planning.

What is the monthly cash flow statement? ›

The primary aim of the monthly cash flow report is to present an overview of the financial activity experienced throughout the month. Organizations rely on monthly cash flow statements to closely monitor cash inflows and outflows. Typical users of the cash flow report are CFOs, controllers, and accountants.

Why is cash flow the best financial statement? ›

Cash flow statements, on the other hand, provide a more straightforward report of the cash available. In other words, a company can appear profitable “on paper” but not have enough actual cash to replenish its inventory or pay its immediate operating expenses such as lease and utilities.

What is the cash flow statement for investments? ›

Cash flow from investing activities is a section of the cash flow statement that shows the cash generated or spent relating to investment activities. Investing activities include purchases of physical assets, investments in securities, or the sale of securities or assets.

What's more important profit or cash? ›

Cash flow and profits are both crucial aspects of a business. For a business to be successful in the long term, it needs to generate profits while also operating with positive cash flow.

How many types of cash flow are there on the cash flow statement? ›

The cash flow statement is a financial statement that reports a company's sources and use of cash over time. A company's cash flow can be categorized as cash flows from operations, investing, and financing.

What are the components of the cash flow statement? ›

There are three primary components to a cash flow report: operating, investing and financing.

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