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Publicly traded stocks provide financial statements on a quarterly basis to the Securities and Exchange Commission as Q and K filings. Locate the income statement in the filing and check for trends in top-line sales, major expenses and bottom line income. Growing sales and earnings are excellent, but declining sales, declining earnings and increasing expenses suggest the company is struggling.

Review footnotes for nonrecurring items and determine for yourself if similar losses or gains are likely in the future. Analyze the balance sheet. Notice whether the company paid down or increased its debt or if any items declined substantially in value. You should also note how much book value is assigned to intangible assets and goodwill. If these are large numbers, double-check the footnotes to make sure they could be useful to the firm in the future.

Analyze the cash flow statement. For operating cash flows, consider whether each past source or use of cash could be repeated in the future. Unsustainable sources and uses of cash should not be used to make future cash flow projections.

Understanding Financial Statements

Calculate free cash flow to investors by summing cash flows from operations and capital expenditures an item in investing cash flows. Investors should be attracted to firms with the potential to produce positive free cash flows. Consider investing and financing cash flows as well.

Verify whether the firm needed to cover investing and operating cash flows by borrowing or issuing shares, and try to determine if it will do it again in the future. Adjust historical accounting values to make them reflect today's economic reality. Items listed as nonrecurring items or those likely to continue should be added back to net income. Adjust balance sheet items to reflect their economic values if they are different from their accounting values. Calculate or look up valuation ratios. Valuation ratios reveal how dear a stock is to investors and include the price-to-book ratio, price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-sales ratio.

These ratios divide the market capitalization of a company by the book value equity listed on the balance sheet , earnings net income on the income statement and sales the top line of the income statement. Calculate other financial ratios. Liquidity ratios reveal whether a company is capable of paying its creditors.

Balance Sheet Tutorial! - Reading a Balance Sheet!

The current ratio is calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. The quick ratio is calculated by dividing current assets minus inventory by current liabilities. Current ratios under 1. Make comparisons.

Financial ratios can be compared between peer firms that use the same accounting conventions and operate in the same industry. Investors need to recognize that financial statement insights are but one piece, albeit an important one, of the larger investment puzzle. The absolute numbers in financial statements are of little value for investment analysis, which must transform these numbers into meaningful relationships to judge a company's financial performance and gauge its financial health.

The Balance Sheet

As noted by auditors on financial statements "the accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements. Prudent investors should only consider investing in companies with audited financial statements, which are a requirement for all publicly-traded companies. Much of the annual report is based on the K, but contains less information and is presented in a marketable document intended for an audience of shareholders. The K is reported directly to the U.

A "clean opinion" provides you with a green light to proceed.

Guide to Financial Statement Analysis for Beginners

Qualifying remarks may be benign or serious; in the case of the latter, you may not want to proceed. Typically, the word "consolidated" appears in the title of a financial statement, as in a consolidated balance sheet. Financial Statements. Fundamental Analysis. Financial Analysis. Investopedia uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Investopedia, you accept our. Your Money. Personal Finance.

Your Practice. Popular Courses. Login Newsletters. Investing Investing Essentials. Table of Contents Expand. Financial Statements to Use. What's Behind the Numbers? Diversity of Reporting. Understanding Financial Jargon. Key Accounting Conventions. Non-Financial Information.

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Financial Ratios and Indicators. Notes to Financial Statements.

What Investors Want to See in Financial Statements

Consolidated Statements. Compare Investment Accounts.

The clues that tell you whether a company is worth investing in: How to read a balance sheet

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