Accrual Accounting and Cashflow


Before the end of World War 1 most managers kept track of cash out and cash in. many senior citizen owner-managers still do today. There is an inherent problem in keeping the records that way, however, if the business offers and receives much credit. Doing business on credit displaces the time of the exchange of cash from the exchange of goods and services. Sometimes very little cash comes in during a particular month and very much cash comes in during other months. The same is true of cash out.

Keeping in track of what you pay or get paid for credit transactions causes the monthly reports describing the operations to fluctuate from month to month even though the goods and services flowing in and out of the business may be very much the same. About 1920 the accounting profession began placing emphasis on the accrual method of accounting to overcome this difficulty.

The accrual method portrays the smoothed-out profit as if all the transactions had been for cash and as if the business had purchased only exactly what was needed to make the sale. It is not an accurate portrayal of everything going on in the business, but it is a good approximation of the net effect of those things that affect profit. The problem is that so much emphasis has been placed on the accrual method income statement and balance sheet that the importance of cash has been regulated to virtual obscurity.

Even this result is satisfactory when the reports are describing large businesses with access to external financing through the stock market, commercial paper, and bank loans at the prime interest rate. But companies that do not have access to these external sources of financing have a different problem. For them, the flow of cash through the business means life or death, whether the accrual based profit is great or terrible. When new or small businesses need cash they must turn to the bank, the banker will look to the personal savings and assets of the owner-manager for collateral.

Accountants have not forgotten nor overlooked the importance of cash. They recognize the need for cash in sufficient quantity to keep the business operating. For their purposes, however, they often infer the cash available to the business from the income statements and describe future cash availability with the balance sheets. They, and others, frequently describe it as: cash flow equals net profit after taxes plus depreciation and other noncash expenses, such as amortization.

This statement is incorrect except under some very stringent preconditions that rarely exist in practice for a small business. This statement is an approximation that is valid for large and stable businesses in which changes from year to year are small and the statements from which the cash flow is inferred are annual reports. For a small and new business looking at monthly financial reports this approximation is inadequate. In a small, growing business the net cash flow to the firm’s bank account does not equal the net profit plus depreciation. Profit is not cash nor is it cash flow.

Although this pronouncement may be unconventional, entrepreneurs are realistic. Successful entrepreneurs ask how it really works and then get on with building their business. In the conventional approach the analysts, having inferred cash flow from profit, depreciation, and amortization, stop there, allowing their readers to assume that the resulting cash is in the bank wiating to be spent.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Price-earnings Ratio


Price-earnings ratios are published daily in newspapers for stock market-listed companies, along with the gross dividend yield, dividend cover and other information about the shares of each company. The method of calculation is what the name suggests:

Price-earnings ratio = stockmarket share price divided byEarnings per share

The stockmarket share price used is the one published in the financial newspapers at the close of business in the stock exchange for the previous evening.

As a generalization, when the price earnings ratio of a company is higher than the average for other companies in the same business sector, the stockmarket expects the company to achieve higher than average earnings per share in the foreseeable future to justify the above-average valuation of the shares.

In certain circumstances, the explanation may be quite different. For example, a takeover bid for the company may be widely expected, and the share price has already increased significantly in anticipation of the price to be offered by the bidder.

It must never be forgotten than the analysis of share prices, and especially the prediction of future changes, cannot be done simply by calculating the various ratios. If this was possible, making a fortune on the stockmarket would be easy. In practice, even the most experienced investment-fund managers would make costly errors of judgment from time to time.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Pulling in High Quality


Organizations pay a lot of attention to product quality. Thousands of companies advertise that they are “ISO 9000 registered,” and man have objectives of making ‘products of the highest quality.’ They emphasize quality for four reasons:

a.    Processes can now make products with guaranteed high quality;

b.    High quality gives a competitive advantage;

c.    Consumers have got used to high quality products, and won’t accept anything less;

d.    High quality reduces costs.

 

If you make poor quality products, your customers will simply move to a competitor. Although high quality won’t guarantee the success of your products, low quality will certainly guarantee their failure. So survival is one of the benefits of high quality, and others include:

a.    Competitive advantage coming from an enhanced reputation;

b.    Larger market share with less effort in marketing;

c.    Reduced liability for defects;

d.    Less waste and higher productivity;

e.    Lower costs and improved profitability;

f.     Enhanced motivation and morale of employees;

g.    Removal of hassle and irritants for managers.

 

Most of these are fairly obvious – if you increase the quality of your products, you expect people to switch from competitors. But the idea that higher quality can reduce costs is particularly interesting. This goes against the traditional view that higher quality automatically means higher cost. Gucci are well known for this combination, and say, ‘Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten’

 

When you take a broader look at the costs, you can see that some of them really go down with higher quality. If you buy a washing machine with a faulty part, you complain and the manufacturer repairs the machine under its guarantee. The manufacturer could have saved money by finding that fault before the machine left the factory, and it could have saved even more by making a machine that did not have a fault in the first place.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight