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Balance sheets are financial statements that are the be-all and end-all of a company’s financial status. They are supposed to have everything about a company’s finances, how much have they earned, how much have they spent from what they earned, how much of it is left or have they spent more than they have earned. Covered ahead are the technical aspects of balance sheets and understand its significance in the stock markets.

What are balance sheets?

Balance sheets are the A-to-Z of a company’s financial status. They contain detailed information on the company’s assets (what it owns) and liabilities (what it owes). Companies generally publish their balance sheets on the last day of the fiscal quarter.

Difference between consolidated and standalone balance sheet:

Whenever a company publishes its quarterly results, you will see two types of balance sheets that a company publishes: standalone and consolidated. The difference between them is very simple. Standalone balance sheets are those that have collated the statement of only the holding company whereas consolidated balance sheets indicate the financials of the holding company along with its subsidiary companies as well.

Is it mandatory to publish balance sheets?

Yes. According to Companies Act, 2013, every company has to publish its audited balance sheet annually. In practise companies may do it at the end of every quarter and once annually. Fundamentally if a company wants it can publish balance sheets daily as well. Some companies, especially banks, are required to publish their balance sheets (audited or unaudited) quarterly.

What does a balance sheet have?

The balance sheet accounts whatever money that comes into the company, stays and leaves the company in any form: be it tangible or intangible.Given below are the major subheads of a balance sheet .

Assets

Current Assets: Current assets are those assets that can be liquidated in a short period of time. In other words, assets for those you can get money/income faster by selling or liquidating them in any manner fall under this heading. Examples of such assets include inventories, trade receivables, cash and more.

  • Cash : Assets in its most liquid form is present as cash. Cash is the fund that is put in saving, checking and money market accounts.
  • Accounts receivable: This is the amount that is to be received from debtors or simply put, customers. Accounts receivable exists from the moment the customer is billed till the time payment is received from the customer or client.
  • Inventory : Inventory is the goods that are manufactured or bought by a company to sell to its customers.

Non-current assets: Broadly, non-current assets are those that are there with the company for a fairly long period of time. Examples of non-current assets include fixed assets. Fixed assets has few categories under it like tangible assets (machinery, vehicles and likewise), intangible assets like goodwill, long term loans and many others.

  • Equipments : Equipements are fixed assets like machinery etc that a company owns for business use. Equipments or machinery is subject to depreciation over time so these are accounted for by subtracting the total depreciation amount
  • Vehicle : An asset held by a company for more than a year. Vehicles are also subject to depreciation and accounted for accordingly.
  • Land : Unlike other fixed assets, the value of land appreciates over a period of time. Land is the longest-held fixed asset.

Liabilities

With liabilities there are two broad categories and one of the most important ones that carry a lot of significance in a company’s balance sheet is shareholder’s equity.

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Shareholders equity: Shareholder’s equity is the shareholder’s residual claim to a company’s value after the company has paid off its liabilities.

Shareholder’s equity= Assets-Liabilities

SE basically can indicate the book value of a company.

Current Liabilities: These are financial liabilities that will become due in a shorter period of time, may be within a year. These could include payments pending to suppliers and vendors within a short time period. Taxes payable to the government, salaries, dividends payable also falls under current liabilities.

Non-current liabilities: Non current liabilities are those payments/liabilities that are due over a longer duration. Longer term borrowings and deferred taxes are examples of non-current liabilities.

Why are balance sheets essential for stock market investors?

  • Shareholders equity: Shareholders equity represents the amount that the shareholders of the company will receive if all the assets of the company were sold and liquidated and all the liabilities were paid off. Shareholder’s equity is an essential figure for you if you want to stay invested in a company.
  • Assets: Assets give you a snapshot of whatever the company owns: in tangible and intangible formats. It will help you to realize the worth of the stock and if the company is giving you the right worth or not, if the company is overvaluing or undervaluing itself.
  • Liabilities: Liabilities are basically whatever the company owes. Once you know what the company owns, if it owes more than that you know the company is under debt. You should keep in mind such parameters and have an idea of such information before you invest in a stock.
  • Audited balance sheets: Audited balance sheets give you the assurance that the numbers may not be fudged and they are authentic.

What will a balance sheet not tell you?

We have understood what does a balance sheet have, what does it tell us and what does the information it contains imply. We also need to understand what the balance sheet will not tell you.

Daily trading transactions: Balance sheets will only give you a financial snapshot but they will not tell you about the business transactions that a company gets into. Here the PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT comes in very handy.

Income and expense: The amount that shows up as cash in the bank in the balance sheet will be a part of the income and expenses column in the P&L account. You will know which category of income or expense it is that a balance sheet will not tell you.

Interest payments: If a business takes a loan, the loan will appear in the balance sheet but the regular interest payment will show up in a P&L account.

Conclusion 

A balance sheet is a very important document to understand the financial health of a company. They indicate the nitty gritty of the money flow of a company. Quarterly results and balance sheets of a company are closely bound to each other. From an investors point of view, while analysing a company for its financial performance, learning to read a balance sheet can give you vital insights and aid your investment decisions.


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