How To Read A Cash Flow Statement Like A Pro

Do you want to be able to read a cash flow statement like a pro? Cash flow statements are an important tool for understanding the financial health of businesses and can provide a wealth of information about the company’s operational activities. Whether you are an investor, an accountant, or just curious about how companies manage their finances, learning to read and understand cash flow statements is essential. In this article, we will discuss the basics of reading a cash flow statement and provide tips on how to do it like a pro!

Reading a cash flow statement can seem overwhelming and complicated. To bring some clarity, it helps to break down the components and understand how to read a cash flow statement one by one. The core elements are operating activities, investing activities, financing activities, and non-cash items. By understanding the relationship between these components, you can begin to gain insight into the financial health of a company.

Being able to accurately interpret a cash flow statement is essential for anyone interested in making informed decisions when it comes to investing in or providing services for companies. Understanding what makes up a cash flow statement and how they interact with each other will help you gain valuable insights into the financial health of any business. So let’s get started! Read on for our guide on reading cash flow statements like a pro!

Understanding the layout of a cash flow statement

When it comes to reading a cash flow statement like a pro, one of the most important steps is understanding the layout. Irony of ironies, it doesn’t seem like that would be top priority for those already considered pros! Nevertheless, a proper grasp of the format is essential for any financial analyst or investor to get the most out of their analysis.


At first glance, the statement might appear convoluted and intimidating. However, with just a few key concepts in mind, understanding its layout can be quite straightforward. The best accounting books contain several suggested layouts for IFRS-compliant statements. A cash flow statement typically has three sections: operating activities, investing activities and financing activities. Each section will provide an overview of how money flowed into and out of the company over a certain period of time. Additionally, there may be supplementary statements which show specific details related to each category.

Armed with this knowledge—and without having to resort to any grand conclusions—we can proceed on our journey towards mastering cash flow statements with confidence. Onward then, to identifying cash generated from operations!

Identifying cash generated from operations

For those looking to become a pro at reading cash flow statements, we have the perfect solution! Forget about hours upon hours of research and practice. Instead, all you need is a little wit and patience to become a master of the statement.

Identifying cash generated from operations can be a tedious task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s just like taking a walk in the park – with one key difference: the park is made up of numbers instead of trees and benches.

To start off, look for the line items that list operating activities such as net income or sales. They should usually appear near the top of the statement and will give you an idea of how much money was generated through normal business activities.

Now that you have an understanding of where to find these figures, let’s move onto identifying cash generated from investing activities – no step required!

Identifying cash generated from investing activities

Cash flow statements, like a fine wine, just keep getting better with age! Any treasury management book will agree! After learning how to identify cash generated from operations, it’s time to move onto the next step in reading a cash flow statement like a pro – identifying cash generated from investing activities.

Here’s the three-step process:

• First off, you have to understand what is included in this section of the statement. Investing activities include any purchases or sales of long-term investments such as stocks and bonds, capital expenditures (like buying a new building), and payments for loan principal.

• Secondly, you need to determine whether cash flows are inflows or outflows. Inflows are when money comes into your organization and outflows are when money goes out of your organization. The net effect will be either positive or negative depending on if more inflows than outflows exist.

• Lastly, add all the cash inflows and outflows together so that you know how much money was generated from investing activities during the period reported in the statement.

Having identified the cash generated from investing activities, we now move onto examining cash generated from financing activities – but don’t worry! With these simple steps under your belt you can easily read a cash flow statement like an old pro!

Identifying cash generated from financing activities

Pursuing the path of profit-perceiving, perceptive readers must pay particular attention to financing activities. Financing activities portray money moving in and out of the company’s coffers due to borrowing and repayment of debt, or issuing stocks and dividends. Dividends are a form of payment made by companies to shareholders for their investments, whereas debt involves the company taking out loans that require repayment with interest.

In order to determine cash generated from financing activities, investors should look at any changes in debt levels and payment of dividends. If there has been an increase in debt or dividends paid out, this has resulted in a decrease in cash; vice versa is also true – if there have been repayments of debt or less dividends paid out, this has resulted in an increase in cash.

This can be seen on the statement of cash flows under the section ‘cash flows from financing activities’ which presents all transactions related to this area during a given period.

By studying these figures closely investors can get a better understanding of the company’s financial health by comparing it to prior periods; such as whether they have taken on more debt than before or have reduced the amount borrowed over time.

Uncovering such information can provide an insight into how well-managed the company is and how financially healthy it might be going forward. With this knowledge gathered from reading through a statement of cash flows, investors will be able to make informed decisions about their potential investments.

Exploring non-cash activity

When it comes to analyzing a cash flow statement, the journey is just beginning. Like an explorer on a voyage of discovery, we must now venture into uncharted territory – exploring non-cash activity.

Like a knight in shining armour, non-cash activity can be the hero of the financial story – but only if you know how to read it! The non-cash activity covers all transactions that don’t involve cash changing hands.

This could include depreciation or amortization expenses, gains and losses from investments, or any other transactions that don’t have an immediate financial impact. It’s important to look out for these ‘non-cash’ items as they can provide valuable insight into how well-managed the business is and its overall performance.

Taking stock of your non-cash activity will help you better understand the company’s management decisions and overall financial health. In turn, this information can be used to make more informed predictions about future performance and whether or not the business is in good shape moving forward.

Looking beyond just cash flows lets you get a clearer picture of the company’s operations and prospects. The next step? Analyzing all the data points to draw meaningful conclusions about your target company’s financial situation.

Analyzing the cash flow statement

The sixth step in learning how to read a cash flow statement like a pro is analyzing the cash flow statement. This is the most important step, as it helps to assess the liquidity of the organization and indicates how it may be performing financially.

First, look at cash flows from operating activities. This includes all transactions related to normal business operations, such as sales, expenses, and taxes. These items are usually found on the income statement, but their impact on cash flow should be considered when analyzing the statement.

Second, consider cash flows from investing activities. These involve transactions related to investments in long-term assets or securities that are not part of regular operations. For example, buying or selling equipment or stocks can affect cash flow.

Finally, review cash flows from financing activities. This includes borrowing money from lenders and repaying debts, issuing stock or other forms of equity financing and dividend payments to shareholders. A company’s ability to borrow funds may affect its future prospects for growth or expansion.

By examining each of these three components separately and together, investors can get a better sense of where an organization’s money is coming from and going to—and whether they can trust their investment in it. Understanding what makes up a company’s cash flow can give investors more insight into its financial health than simply looking at its income statement alone.


The ability to read a cash flow statement like a pro is an invaluable skill, as it can give you insight into the financial health of any company. With the right knowledge and practice, anyone can become adept at understanding the layout of a cash flow statement, identifying sources of cash generated from operations, investing activities and financing activities, exploring non-cash activity, and analyzing all components of the statement.

By taking the time to fully comprehend a cash flow statement, investors can get a better idea of how well companies are managing their finances and make more informed decisions about where it may be best to invest their money. Furthermore, businesses can use these statements to ensure that they are following sound financial practices and improving on areas where they may be lagging behind.

Overall, learning to read a cash flow statement like a pro can provide you with great insight into the financial health of any company, enabling you to make better decisions when it comes to investing and managing your own finances. With some practice, patience, and persistence you too can become an expert in reading these financial documents.