Cash Flow From Operating Activities

By Annapoorna


Updated on: Feb 9th, 2022


3 min read

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Cash flow from operations is the first of the three segments of the cash flow statement. The other is investing and financing, which indicates the incoming and outgoing cash from the key operating business in an accounting year. Operating activities comprise cash received from sales, expenses incurred as direct costs and funding for working capital.

Cash Flow From Operating Activities – Explained

Cash flow from operating activities or operating cash flow shows how much money a business brings in from its core business activities. This is a metric that is focused entirely on your core business activities.

Particulars of a business’s cash flow are available in the cash flow statement, which is part of the business’s quarterly reports and annual reports. It indicates the cash-generating capabilities of a business’s regular core activities.

Cash Flow From Operating Activities Formats – Direct and Indirect

There are primarily two methods to calculate the cash flow from operating activities from the cash flow statement. These are direct and indirect methods. The cash flow from operating activities is entered as an outgoing and ongoing cash flow in the direct format. On the other hand, Operating cash flows are depicted as a reconciliation from profit to cash flow in the indirect format.

• Cash flow from operating activities – direct method: All the business transactions are recorded, and the data is presented using actual cash inflows and outflows with the direct method.

• Cash flow from operating activities – indirect approach: To calculate cash flow from operating activities applying the indirect method, begin with net income and go backward, making adjustments for amortisation and depreciation along the way.

Why is Calculating Cash Flow From Operating Activities Important?

Cash availability helps a company develop, build, and launch new goods, buy back shares to demonstrate its solid financial position, pay dividends to reward and support shareholder trust, or pay down debt to save money on interest payments.

Investors try to find firms with lower share prices and more cash flow from operations in recent quarters. A positive cash flow suggests that the company’s cash flow is expanding, which, if properly employed, can result in higher share prices shortly. If cash flow levels are applied better, they can contribute to greater stock values.

Positive (and growing) cash flow from operations implies that the company’s main business is doing well. It serves as an extra measure/indicator of a company’s profitability potential, in addition to established measures such as net income.

How to Calculate Cash Flow From Operating Activities?

The method used to calculate cash flow from operations will vary depending on the business. This is because each business’s balance sheet/income statement has unique components. However, there is a general cash flow from the operational activities formula that you can use.

Cash Flow from Operating Activities = Net Income + Non-Cash Items + Changes in Working Capital

While net income can be found on the income statement, non-cash items will require more research. Depreciation, amortisation, depletion, stock-based compensation, and other expenditures are included in this category. After you’ve added non-cash items to net income, you’ll need to figure out how much your business’s working capital has changed.

The cash flow from operations is a good measure of the business’s main operating activities. It can assist an investor in determining the business’s activities and determining whether the main operations are profitable. If the firm does not make money from its primary operations, that indicates that it will go out of business shortly.

About the Author

I preach the words, “Learning never exhausts the mind.” An aspiring CA and a passionate content writer having 4+ years of hands-on experience in deciphering jargon in Indian GST, Income Tax, off late also into the much larger Indian finance ecosystem, I love curating content in various forms to the interest of tax professionals, and enterprises, both big and small. While not writing, you can catch me singing Shāstriya Sangeetha and tuning my violin ;). Read more


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