Reading 24 Understanding Income Statements (Intro)
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The income statement presents information on the financial results of a company’s business activities over a period of time. The income statement communicates how much revenue the company generated during a period and what costs it incurred in connection with generating that revenue. The basic equation underlying the income statement, ignoring gains and losses, is Revenue minus Expenses equals Net income. The income statement is also sometimes referred to as the “statement of operations,” “statement of earnings,” or “profit and loss (P&L) statement.”
Under IFRS, the income statement may be presented as a separate statement followed by a statement of comprehensive income that begins with the profit or loss from the income statement or as a section of a single statement of comprehensive income. US GAAP permit the same alternative presentation formats.2 This reading focuses on the income statement, but also discusses comprehensive income (profit or loss from the income statement plus other comprehensive income).
Investment analysts intensely scrutinize companies’ income statements.3 Equity analysts are interested in them because equity markets often reward relatively high- or low-earnings growth companies with above-average or below-average valuations, respectively, and because inputs into valuation models often include estimates of earnings. Fixed-income analysts examine the components of income statements, past and projected, for information on companies’ abilities to make promised payments on their debt over the course of the business cycle. Corporate financial announcements frequently emphasize information reported in income statements, particularly earnings, more than information reported in the other financial statements.