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Saturday, August 14, 2010

5. Read & Evaluate Company's Financial Statements

Step-5: Read and Evaluate Company’s Financial Statements

This is the most difficult part of this process. It is generally used by sophisticated finance professionals, mostly fund managers who can understand different financial statements. However, there are few things that even you should keep in mind. There are three different financial statement- balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. You should focus only on balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Balance Sheet: It summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities (debt) and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. A typical Indian firm’s balance sheet has following line items:

• Gross block
• Capital work in progress
• Investments
• Inventory
• Other current assets
• Equity Share capital
• Reserves
• Total debt

Gross block: Gross block is the sum total of all assets of the company valued at their cost of acquisition. This is inclusive of the depreciation that is to be charged on each asset. Net block is the gross block less accumulated depreciation on assets. Net block is actually what the asset is worth to the company.

Capital work in progress: Capital work in progress sometimes at the end of the financial year, there is some construction or installation going on in the company, which is not complete, such installation is recorded in the books as capital work in progress because it is asset for the business.

Investments: If the company has made some investments out of its free cash, it is recorded under it.

Inventory: Inventory is the stock of goods that a company has at any point of time. Receivables include the debtors of the company, i.e., it includes all those accounts which are to give money back to the company.

Other current assets: Other current assets include all the assets, which can be converted into cash within a very short period of time like cash in bank etc.

Equity Share capital: Equity Share capital is the owner\'s equity. It is the most permanent source of finance for the company.

Reserves: Reserves include the free reserves of the company which are built out of the genuine profits of the company. Together they are known as net worth of the company.

Total debt: Total debt includes the long term and the short debt of the company. Long term is for a longer duration, usually for a period more than 3 years like debentures. Short term debt is for a lesser duration, usually for less than a year like bank finance for working capital.

One need to ask-How much debt does the company have? How much debt does it have the current year? Find out debt to equity ratio. If this ratio is greater than 2, the company has a high risk of default on the interest payments. Also, find out whether the firm is generating enough cash to pay for its working capital or debt.

If total liabilities are greater than total assets, sell the stock as the firm is heading for disaster. This debt to equity ratio is extremely important for a company to survive in bad economy. What is happening now-a-days should make this extremely important. Companies having higher debt ratio have got hammered in the stock market. Look at real estate companies- their stocks are down by almost 90%. This is because they have high debt level which means higher interest payments. Remember, a weak balance sheet makes a company vulnerable to bankruptcy!

Step-6: Buy or Sell

Back to Six Steps to Find the Best Stocks