Financial Accounting Blog

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Up a Creek--with Lots of Cash. BW Online 2001. This is a somewhat dated article but shows how companies use accounts to change the financial statements without affecting the cash acconts.

Accounting rules go a long way toward explaining why corporate cash positions can improve when profits fall. For one thing, companies have massively overinvested in capital equipment. Now they're writing off unneeded gear and depreciating what's left as it becomes worn out and obsolete. It's appropriate that depreciation and writedowns are squelching profits, because those assets--and therefore the companies--truly aren't as valuable as they were thought to be. But the enormous accounting adjustments don't drain cash, which is what counts for paying the bills.