Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (2024)

What Are Financial Statements?

Financial statements are written records that convey the financial activities of a company. Financial statements are often audited by government agencies and accountants to ensure accuracy and for tax, financing, or investing purposes. For-profit primary financial statements include the balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flow, and statement of changes in equity. Nonprofit entities use a similar but different set of financial statements.

Key Takeaways

  • Financial statements provide interested parties with a company's overall financial condition and profitability.
  • Statements required by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are the balance sheet, the income statement, and the statement of cash flows, but you'll likely see more in reports.
  • The balance sheet provides an overview of assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity as a snapshot in time.
  • The income statement primarily focuses on a company's revenues and expenses during a particular period. Once expenses are subtracted from revenues, the statement produces a company's profit figure called net income.
  • The cash flow statement (CFS)tracks how a company uses its cash to pay itsdebt obligations and fund itsoperating expenses and investments.

Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (1)

Understanding Financial Statements

Investors and financial analysts rely on financial data to analyze a company's performance and make predictions about the future direction of its stock price. One of the most important resources of reliable and audited financial data is the annual report, which contains the firm's financial statements.

The financial statements are used by investors, market analysts, and creditors to evaluate a company's financial health and earnings potential.The three major financial statement reports are the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows.

Not all financial statements are created equally. The rules used by U.S. companies are called Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, while the rules often used by international companies are International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). In addition, U.S. government agencies use a different set of financial reporting rules.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet provides an overview of a company's assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity at a specific time and date. The date at the top of the balance sheet tells you when this snapshot was taken; this is generally the end of its annual reporting period. Below is a breakdown of the items in a balance sheet.

Assets

  • Cash and cash equivalentsareliquid assets, which may include Treasury billsandcertificates of deposit.
  • Accounts receivablearethe amount of money owed to the company by its customers for the sale of its products and services.
  • Inventory is the goods a company has on hand, intended to be sold as a course of business. Inventory may include finished goods, work in progress that is not yet finished, or raw materials on hand that have yet to be worked.
  • Prepaid expenses are costs paid in advance of when they are due. These expenses are recorded as an asset because their value has not yet been recognized; should the benefit not be recognized, the company would theoretically be due a refund.
  • Property, plant, and equipment are capital assets owned by a company for its long-term benefit. This includes buildings used for manufacturing or heavy machinery used for processing raw materials.
  • Investments are assets held for speculative future growth. These aren't used in operations; they are simply held for capital appreciation.
  • Trademarks, patents, goodwill, and other intangible assets can't physically be touched but have future economic (and often long-term benefits) for the company.

Liabilities

  • Accounts payable are the bills due as part of a business's operations. This includes utility bills, rent invoices, and obligations to buy raw materials.
  • Wages payable are payments due to staff for time worked.
  • Notes payable are recorded debt instruments that record official debt agreements, including the payment schedule and amount.
  • Dividendspayable are dividends that have been declared to be awarded to shareholders but have not yet been paid.
  • Long-term debt can include a variety of obligations, including sinking bond funds, mortgages, or other loans that are due in their entirety in more than one year. Note that the short-term portion of this debt is recorded as a current liability.

Shareholders' Equity

  • Shareholders' equity is a company's total assets minus itstotal liabilities.Shareholders' equity (also known as stockholders' equity) represents the amount of money that would be returned to shareholders if all of theassets were liquidated and all debtspaid off.
  • Retained earningsare part of shareholders'equity and are the amount ofnet earningsthat were not paid to shareholdersasdividends.

Example of a Balance Sheet

Below is a portion of ExxonMobil Corporation's(XOM)balance sheetfor fiscal year 2021, reported as of Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Total assets were $338.9 billion.
  • Total liabilities were $163.2 billion.
  • Total equity was $175.7 billion.
  • Total liabilities and equity were $338.9 billion, which equals the total assets for the period.

Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (2)

Income Statement

Unlike the balance sheet, the income statement covers a range of time, which is a year for annual financial statements and a quarter for quarterly financial statements. The income statement provides an overview of revenues, expenses, net income, and earnings per share.

Revenue

Operating revenue is the revenue earned by selling a company's products or services. Theoperating revenue for an auto manufacturer would be realized through the production and sale of autos. Operating revenue is generated from the core business activities of a company.

Non-operating revenue is the income earned from non-core businessactivities. These revenues fall outside the primary function of the business. Some non-operating revenue examples include:

  • Interest earned on cash in the bank
  • Rental income from a property
  • Income from strategic partnerships likeroyaltypayment receipts
  • Income from an advertisem*nt display located on the company's property

Other income is the revenue earned from other activities. Other income could include gains from the sale of long-term assets such as land, vehicles, or a subsidiary.

Expenses

Primary expenses are incurred during the process of earning revenue from the primary activity of the business. Expenses include the cost of goods sold (COGS),selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A),depreciationoramortization, andresearch and development (R&D).

Typical expenses include employee wages, sales commissions, and utilities such as electricity and transportation.

Expenses that are linked to secondary activities include interest paid on loans or debt. Losses from the sale of an asset are also recorded as expenses.

The main purpose of the income statement is to convey details of profitability and the financial results of business activities; however, it can be very effective in showing whether sales or revenue is increasing when compared over multiple periods.

Investors can also see how well a company's management is controlling expenses to determine whether a company's efforts in reducing the cost of sales might boost profits over time.

Example of an Income Statement

Below is a portion of ExxonMobil Corporation'sincome statement for fiscal year 2021, reported as of Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Total revenue was $276.7 billion.
  • Total costs were $254.4 billion.
  • Net income or profit was $23 billion.

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Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement (CFS)shows how cash flows throughout a company. The cash flow statement complementsthebalance sheetandincome statement.

The CFS allows investors to understand how a company's operations are running, where its money is coming from, and how moneyis being spent. The CFS also provides insight as to whether a company is on a solid financial footing.

The cash flow statement contains three sections that report on the various activities for which a company uses its cash. Those three components of the CFS are listed below.

Operating Activities

The operating activities on the CFS include any sources and uses of cash from running the business and selling its products or services. Cash from operations includes any changes made in cash accounts receivable, depreciation, inventory, andaccounts payable. These transactions also include wages, income tax payments, interest payments, rent, and cash receipts from the sale of a product or service.

Investing Activities

Investing activities include any sources and uses of cash from a company's investments in its long-term future. A purchase or sale of an asset, loans made to vendors or received from customers, or any payments related to a merger or acquisition are included in this category.

Also, purchases of fixed assets such asproperty, plant, and equipment (PPE) are included in this section. In short, changes in equipment, assets, or investments relate to cash from investing.

Financing Activities

Cash from financing activities includes the cash from investors or banks and the cash paid to shareholders. Financing activities include debt issuance, equity issuance, stock repurchases, loans, dividends paid, and debt repayments.

The cash flow statement reconciles the income statement with the balance sheet in three major business activities.

Example of a Cash Flow Statement

Below is a portion of ExxonMobil Corporation's cash flow statement for fiscal year 2021, reported as of Dec. 31, 2021.We can see the three areas of the cash flow statement and their results.

  • Operating activities generated a positive cash flow of $48 billion.
  • Investing activities generated cash outflows of -$10.2 billion for the period. Additions to property, plant, and equipment made up the majority of cash outflows, which means the company invested in new fixed assets.
  • Financing activities generated cash outflows of -$35.4 billion for the period. Reductions in short-term debt and dividends paid out comprised most of the cash outflows.

Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (4)

Statement of Changes in Shareholder Equity

The statement of changes in equity tracks total equity over time. This information ties back to a balance sheet for the same period; the ending balance on the change of equity statement equals the total equity reported on the balance sheet.

The formula for changes to shareholder equity will vary from company to company; in general, there are a couple of components:

  • Beginning equity: This is the equity at the end of the last period that simply rolls to the start of the next period.
  • (+) Net income: This is the amount of income the company earned in a given period. The proceeds from operations are automatically recognized as equity in the company, and this income is rolled into retained earnings at year-end.
  • (-) Dividends: This is the amount of money that is paid out to shareholders from profits. Instead of keeping all of a company's profits, the company may choose to give some profits away to investors.
  • (+/-) Other comprehensive income: This is the period-over-period change in other comprehensive income. Depending on transactions, this figure may be an addition or subtraction from equity.

In ExxonMobil's statement of changes in equity, the company also records activity for acquisitions, dispositions, amortization of stock-based awards, and other financial activities. This information is useful for analyzing how much money is being retained by the company for future growth as opposed to being distributed externally.

Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (5)

Statement of Comprehensive Income

An often less utilized financial statement, the statement of comprehensive income summarizes standard net income while also incorporating changes in other comprehensive income (OCI). Other comprehensive income includes all unrealized gains and losses that are not reported on the income statement. This financial statement shows a company's total change in income, even gains and losses that have yet to be recorded in accordance with accounting rules.

Examples of transactions that are reported on the statement of comprehensive income include:

  • Net income (from the statement of income)
  • Unrealized gains or losses from debt securities
  • Unrealized gains or losses from derivative instruments
  • Unrealized translation adjustments due to foreign currency
  • Unrealized gains or losses from retirement programs

In the example below, ExxonMobil has over $2 billion of net unrecognized income. Instead of reporting just $23.5 billion of net income, ExxonMobil reports nearly $26 billion of total income when considering other comprehensive income.

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Nonprofit Financial Statements

Nonprofit organizations record financial transactions across a similar set of financial statements. However, due to the differences between a for-profit entity and a purely philanthropic entity, there are differences in the financial statements used. The standard set of financial statements used for a nonprofit entity includes:

  • Statement of Financial Position: This is the equivalent of a for-profit entity's balance sheet. The largest difference is nonprofit entities do not have equity positions; any residual balances after all assets have been liquidated and liabilities have been satisfied are called "net assets."
  • Statement of Activities: This is the equivalent of a for-profit entity's statement of income. This report tracks the changes in operation over time, including the reporting of donations, grants, event revenue, and expenses to make everything happen.
  • Statement of Functional Expenses: This is specific to nonprofit entities. The statement of functional expenses reports expenses by entity function (often broken into administrative, program, or fundraising expenses). This information is distributed to the public to explain what proportion of company-wide expenditures are related directly to the mission.
  • Statement of Cash Flow: This is the equivalent of a for-profit entity's statement of cash flow. Though the accounts listed may vary due to the different nature of a nonprofit organization, the statement is still divided into operating, investing, and financing activities.

The purpose of an external auditor is to assess whether an entity's financial statements have been prepared following prevailing accounting rules and whether any material misstatements are impacting the validity of results.

Limitations of Financial Statements

Although financial statements provide a wealth of information on a company, they do have limitations. The statements are often interpreted differently, so investors often draw divergent conclusions about a company's financial performance.

For example, some investors might want stock repurchases, while others might prefer to see that money invested in long-term assets. A company's debt level might be fine for one investor, while another might have concerns about the level of debt for the company.

When analyzing financial statements, it's important to compare multiple periods to determine any trends and compare the company's results to its peers in the same industry.

Lastly, financial statements are only as reliable as the information fed into the reports. Too often, it's been documented that fraudulent financial activity or poor control oversight have led to misstated financial statements intended to mislead users. Even when analyzing audited financial statements, there is a level of trust that users must place in the validity of the report and the figures being shown.

What Are the Main Types of Financial Statements?

The three main types of financial statements are the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement. These three statements together show the assets and liabilities of a business, its revenues, and costs, as well as its cash flows from operating, investing, and financing activities.

What Are the Benefits of Financial Statements?

Financial statements show how a business operates. It provides insight into how much and how a business generates revenues, what the cost of doing business is, how efficiently it manages its cash, and what its assets and liabilities are. Financial statements provide all the details on how well or poorly a company manages itself.

How Do You Read Financial Statements?

Financial statements are read in several different ways. First, financial statements can be compared to prior periods to understand changes over time better. Financial statements are also read by comparing the results to competitors or other industry participants. By comparing financial statements to other companies, analysts can get a better sense of which companies are performing the best and which are lagging behind the rest of the industry.

What Is GAAP?

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are the rules by which publicly-owned United States companies must prepare their financial statements. It is the guideline that explains how to record transactions, when to recognize revenue, and when expenses must be recognized. International companies may use a similar but different set of rules called International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

The Bottom Line

Financial statements are the ticket to the external evaluation of a company's financial performance. The balance sheet reports a company's financial health through its liquidity and solvency, while the income statement reports its profitability. A statement of cash flow ties these two together by tracking sources and uses of cash. Together, these financial statements attempt to provide a more clear picture of a business's financial standing.

Financial Statements: List of Types and How to Read Them (2024)

FAQs

What are the types of financial statements and define them? ›

The three main types of financial statements are the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement. These three statements together show the assets and liabilities of a business, its revenues, and costs, as well as its cash flows from operating, investing, and financing activities.

How to read and analyze financial statements? ›

Basic analysis of the income statement usually involves the calculation of gross profit margin, operating profit margin, and net profit margin, which each divide profit by revenue. Profit margin helps to show where company costs are low or high at different points of the operations.

What are the 4 primary financial statements 5 list and describe what appears on them? ›

They are: (1) balance sheets; (2) income statements; (3) cash flow statements; and (4) statements of shareholders' equity. Balance sheets show what a company owns and what it owes at a fixed point in time. Income statements show how much money a company made and spent over a period of time.

What are the 4 most important financial statements and their uses? ›

For-profit businesses use four primary types of financial statement: the balance sheet, the income statement, the statement of cash flow, and the statement of retained earnings. Read on to explore each one and the information it conveys.

What are the four financial statements used to monitor a company's finances? ›

There are four primary types of financial statements:
  • Balance sheets.
  • Income statements.
  • Cash flow statements.
  • Statements of shareholders' equity.
Nov 1, 2023

What are the 5 financial statements? ›

Statement of financial position (balance sheet); Statement of income and expense (profit and loss account); Statement of cash flows (cash flow statement); Statement of changes in equity; and.

How to read an income statement for dummies? ›

Your income statement follows a linear path, from top line to bottom line. Think of the top line as a “rough draft” of the money you've made—your total revenue, before taking into account any expenses—and your bottom line as a “final draft”—the profit you earned after taking account of all expenses.

How to read a balance sheet for dummies? ›

The balance sheet is broken into two main areas. Assets are on the top or left, and below them or to the right are the company's liabilities and shareholders' equity. A balance sheet is also always in balance, where the value of the assets equals the combined value of the liabilities and shareholders' equity.

How to read balance sheet and P&L? ›

While the P&L statement gives us information about the company's profitability, the balance sheet gives us information about the assets, liabilities, and shareholders equity. The P&L statement, as you understood, discusses the profitability for the financial year under consideration.

What are the 4 classification of financial statements? ›

The four types of financial statements include Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement, Income Statement, and Retained Earnings Statement. Each report helps to identify any anomalies, inconsistencies, or trends that may require your attention.

What are the 3 main financial statements in accounting? ›

The income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows are required financial statements. These three statements are informative tools that traders can use to analyze a company's financial strength and provide a quick picture of a company's financial health and underlying value.

What is the difference between financial statements and financial reporting? ›

Financial reporting and financial statements are often used interchangeably. But in accounting, there are some differences between financial reporting and financial statements. Reporting is used to provide information for decision making. Statements are the products of financial reporting and are more formal.

What is more important, a balance sheet or an income statement? ›

The key differences between a balance sheet and income statement include: Usage: Lenders and investors use a balance sheet to determine a company's creditworthiness and the availability of assets for collateral. Shareholders, investors, and management use an income statement to evaluate business performance.

What are 5 elements of financial statements? ›

The major elements of the financial statements (i.e., assets, liabilities, fund balance/net assets, revenues, expenditures, and expenses) are discussed below, including the proper accounting treatments and disclosure requirements.

What is most important on a balance sheet? ›

Many experts believe that the most important areas on a balance sheet are cash, accounts receivable, short-term investments, property, plant, equipment, and other major liabilities.

What are the three financial statements define and explain? ›

The income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows are required financial statements. These three statements are informative tools that traders can use to analyze a company's financial strength and provide a quick picture of a company's financial health and underlying value.

What are the 5 components of the financial statement? ›

The major elements of the financial statements (i.e., assets, liabilities, fund balance/net assets, revenues, expenditures, and expenses) are discussed below, including the proper accounting treatments and disclosure requirements.

What are the types of financial statement analysis explain? ›

Three-statement financial analysis involves assessing a company's financial health using the three core financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. This holistic approach provides insights into profitability, liquidity, and overall operational performance.

What are the four types of financial transactions? ›

There are four main types of financial transactions that occur in a business. These four types of financial transactions are sales, purchases, receipts, and payments.

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