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Principles of Finance

4.1 Cash versus Accrual Accounting

Principles of Finance4.1 Cash versus Accrual Accounting

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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction to Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 1.1 What Is Finance?
    3. 1.2 The Role of Finance in an Organization
    4. 1.3 Importance of Data and Technology
    5. 1.4 Careers in Finance
    6. 1.5 Markets and Participants
    7. 1.6 Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Matters
    8. 1.7 Financial Instruments
    9. 1.8 Concepts of Time and Value
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Video Activity
  3. 2 Corporate Structure and Governance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 2.1 Business Structures
    3. 2.2 Relationship between Shareholders and Company Management
    4. 2.3 Role of the Board of Directors
    5. 2.4 Agency Issues: Shareholders and Corporate Boards
    6. 2.5 Interacting with Investors, Intermediaries, and Other Market Participants
    7. 2.6 Companies in Domestic and Global Markets
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Video Activity
  4. 3 Economic Foundations: Money and Rates
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 3.1 Microeconomics
    3. 3.2 Macroeconomics
    4. 3.3 Business Cycles and Economic Activity
    5. 3.4 Interest Rates
    6. 3.5 Foreign Exchange Rates
    7. 3.6 Sources and Characteristics of Economic Data
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  5. 4 Accrual Accounting Process
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 4.1 Cash versus Accrual Accounting
    3. 4.2 Economic Basis for Accrual Accounting
    4. 4.3 How Does a Company Recognize a Sale and an Expense?
    5. 4.4 When Should a Company Capitalize or Expense an Item?
    6. 4.5 What Is “Profit” versus “Loss” for the Company?
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  6. 5 Financial Statements
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 5.1 The Income Statement
    3. 5.2 The Balance Sheet
    4. 5.3 The Relationship between the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement
    5. 5.4 The Statement of Owner’s Equity
    6. 5.5 The Statement of Cash Flows
    7. 5.6 Operating Cash Flow and Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)
    8. 5.7 Common-Size Statements
    9. 5.8 Reporting Financial Activity
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. CFA Institute
    13. Multiple Choice
    14. Review Questions
    15. Problems
    16. Video Activity
  7. 6 Measures of Financial Health
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 6.1 Ratios: Condensing Information into Smaller Pieces
    3. 6.2 Operating Efficiency Ratios
    4. 6.3 Liquidity Ratios
    5. 6.4 Solvency Ratios
    6. 6.5 Market Value Ratios
    7. 6.6 Profitability Ratios and the DuPont Method
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  8. 7 Time Value of Money I: Single Payment Value
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 7.1 Now versus Later Concepts
    3. 7.2 Time Value of Money (TVM) Basics
    4. 7.3 Methods for Solving Time Value of Money Problems
    5. 7.4 Applications of TVM in Finance
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  9. 8 Time Value of Money II: Equal Multiple Payments
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 8.1 Perpetuities
    3. 8.2 Annuities
    4. 8.3 Loan Amortization
    5. 8.4 Stated versus Effective Rates
    6. 8.5 Equal Payments with a Financial Calculator and Excel
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  10. 9 Time Value of Money III: Unequal Multiple Payment Values
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 9.1 Timing of Cash Flows
    3. 9.2 Unequal Payments Using a Financial Calculator or Microsoft Excel
    4. Summary
    5. Key Terms
    6. CFA Institute
    7. Multiple Choice
    8. Review Questions
    9. Problems
    10. Video Activity
  11. 10 Bonds and Bond Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 10.1 Characteristics of Bonds
    3. 10.2 Bond Valuation
    4. 10.3 Using the Yield Curve
    5. 10.4 Risks of Interest Rates and Default
    6. 10.5 Using Spreadsheets to Solve Bond Problems
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  12. 11 Stocks and Stock Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 11.1 Multiple Approaches to Stock Valuation
    3. 11.2 Dividend Discount Models (DDMs)
    4. 11.3 Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model
    5. 11.4 Preferred Stock
    6. 11.5 Efficient Markets
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  13. 12 Historical Performance of US Markets
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 12.1 Overview of US Financial Markets
    3. 12.2 Historical Picture of Inflation
    4. 12.3 Historical Picture of Returns to Bonds
    5. 12.4 Historical Picture of Returns to Stocks
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Review Questions
    10. Video Activity
  14. 13 Statistical Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 13.1 Measures of Center
    3. 13.2 Measures of Spread
    4. 13.3 Measures of Position
    5. 13.4 Statistical Distributions
    6. 13.5 Probability Distributions
    7. 13.6 Data Visualization and Graphical Displays
    8. 13.7 The R Statistical Analysis Tool
    9. Summary
    10. Key Terms
    11. CFA Institute
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Problems
    15. Video Activity
  15. 14 Regression Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 14.1 Correlation Analysis
    3. 14.2 Linear Regression Analysis
    4. 14.3 Best-Fit Linear Model
    5. 14.4 Regression Applications in Finance
    6. 14.5 Predictions and Prediction Intervals
    7. 14.6 Use of R Statistical Analysis Tool for Regression Analysis
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  16. 15 How to Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 15.1 Risk and Return to an Individual Asset
    3. 15.2 Risk and Return to Multiple Assets
    4. 15.3 The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)
    5. 15.4 Applications in Performance Measurement
    6. 15.5 Using Excel to Make Investment Decisions
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  17. 16 How Companies Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 16.1 Payback Period Method
    3. 16.2 Net Present Value (NPV) Method
    4. 16.3 Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Method
    5. 16.4 Alternative Methods
    6. 16.5 Choosing between Projects
    7. 16.6 Using Excel to Make Company Investment Decisions
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  18. 17 How Firms Raise Capital
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 17.1 The Concept of Capital Structure
    3. 17.2 The Costs of Debt and Equity Capital
    4. 17.3 Calculating the Weighted Average Cost of Capital
    5. 17.4 Capital Structure Choices
    6. 17.5 Optimal Capital Structure
    7. 17.6 Alternative Sources of Funds
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  19. 18 Financial Forecasting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 18.1 The Importance of Forecasting
    3. 18.2 Forecasting Sales
    4. 18.3 Pro Forma Financials
    5. 18.4 Generating the Complete Forecast
    6. 18.5 Forecasting Cash Flow and Assessing the Value of Growth
    7. 18.6 Using Excel to Create the Long-Term Forecast
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  20. 19 The Importance of Trade Credit and Working Capital in Planning
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 19.1 What Is Working Capital?
    3. 19.2 What Is Trade Credit?
    4. 19.3 Cash Management
    5. 19.4 Receivables Management
    6. 19.5 Inventory Management
    7. 19.6 Using Excel to Create the Short-Term Plan
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Video Activity
  21. 20 Risk Management and the Financial Manager
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 20.1 The Importance of Risk Management
    3. 20.2 Commodity Price Risk
    4. 20.3 Exchange Rates and Risk
    5. 20.4 Interest Rate Risk
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  22. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Outline the key concepts of the cash-basis accounting method.
  • Explain the key characteristics of the accrual-basis accounting method.
  • Identify businesses for which cash accounting or accrual accounting is more appropriate.

In this section, we will explore the basic elements of cash and accrual accounting and the businesses that are most likely to use each one. Some private companies may choose to use cash-basis accounting rather than accrual-basis accounting to report financial information.

Cash-Basis Accounting

In business, cash is certainly important. In fact, it’s so important that it dictates one of two ways we can account for our business transactions. The cash method is just as the name implies—it records transactions only when cash flows. We track cash inflows and outflows as they occur. This method is most commonly used by small businesses that deal primarily in cash transactions. The other method, called the accrual method, records transactions when they occur, rather than waiting for cash to be accumulated. Using the accrual method, we match cash inflows and the outflows required to generate them. We call this the matching principle. This method is used by most publicly traded companies. In this chapter, you’ll explore both methods, see how each impacts financial statements differently, note the role of timing in each method, and learn how and when to record capital and expense transactions.

Let’s look at an example. Chris just finished the first month of her landscaping business operations at the end of August, and she used the cash method of accounting to figure out her net income. Most small start-up companies use the cash method of accounting because it is easy to understand, requires no special training, and helps them focus on one big key to their survival—cash. This means that she simply recorded the cash that came in and the cash that went out of her business. She brought in $1,400 in revenue in her first month, which she felt was substantial given that it was her first month. But after deducting her expenses, she had only $250 left, so she worried about the future of her business. Would she have to increase her sales exponentially in order to start bringing in a decent profit each month?

As you move through the chapter, you’ll get to see the impact of the two methods of accounting and how these methods impact the insights and decisions Chris made for her new business.

Cash-basis accounting is a method of accounting in which transactions are not recorded in the financial statements until there is an exchange of cash. Cash-basis accounting sometimes impacts the timing of revenue and expense reporting until cash receipts or outlays occur. For example, as you saw above, Chris measured the performance of her landscaping business for the month of August using cash flows. Cash accounting is far simpler to track than accrual-basis accounting.

Accrual-Basis Accounting

Public companies reporting their financial positions use either US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as allowed under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. GAAP is a set of accounting standards created by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). It’s key to note that though they are similar in many areas, there are still key areas that differ between GAAP and IFRS. Therefore, when using financial statements, it’s important to be aware of the standards under which they were prepared. However, public or private companies using GAAP or IFRS must prepare their financial statements using the rules of accrual accounting. Accrual-basis accounting prescribes that revenues and expenses must be recorded in the accounting period in which they were earned or incurred, no matter when cash receipts or payments occur. It is because of accrual accounting that we have the revenue recognition principle and the expense recognition principle (also known as the matching principle).

The accrual method is considered to better match revenues and expenses and standardizes reporting information for comparability purposes. Having comparable information is important to external users of information trying to make investment or lending decisions and to internal users trying to make decisions about company performance, budgeting, and growth strategies.

Who Uses Each Method?

Cash-basis accounting can be more efficient and well-suited for certain types of businesses, such as farming or professional services provided by lawyers and doctors. However, the accrual basis of accounting is theoretically preferable to the cash basis of accounting because it takes into account the timing of the transactions (when goods and services are provided and when the cash involved in the transactions is received). Cash can often be received a significant amount of time after the initial transaction. Considering this amount allows accountants to provide, in a timely manner, relevant and complete information to stakeholders.

There are several reasons accrual-basis accounting is preferred to cash-basis accounting. Accrual-basis accounting is required by GAAP because it typically provides a better sense of the financial well-being of a company. Accrual-based accounting information allows management to analyze a company’s progress, and management can use that information to improve their business. Accrual accounting is also used to assist companies in securing financing because banks will typically require a company to provide accrual-basis financial income statements. The Internal Revenue Service requires businesses to report using accrual-basis information when preparing tax returns. In addition, companies with inventory must use accrual-based accounting for income tax purposes, though there are exceptions to the general rule.

So why might a company use cash-basis accounting? Companies that do not sell stock publicly can use cash-basis instead of accrual-basis accounting for internal management purposes or because they are exempt from such requirements in agreements such as a bank loan. Cash-basis accounting is a simpler accounting system to use than an accrual-basis accounting system when tracking real-time revenues and expenses.

Think It Through

Cash- or Accrual-Basis Accounting?

You are a new accountant at a beauty salon. The salon had previously used cash-basis accounting to prepare its financial records but is now considering switching to an accrual-basis method. You have been tasked with determining if this transition is appropriate.

When you go through the records, you notice that this transition will greatly impact how the salon reports revenues and expenses. The salon will now report some revenues and expenses before it receives or pays cash.

How will this change positively impact its business reporting? How will it negatively impact its business reporting? If you were the accountant, would you recommend the salon transition from cash basis to accrual basis?

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