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    31 What are partnerships and limited liability companies

     

    What are partnerships and limited liability companies? Some business owners choose to create partnerships or limited liability companies instead of a corporation. A partnership can also be called a firm, and refers to an association of a group of individuals working together in a business or professional practice. While corporations have rigid rules about how they are structured, partnerships and limited liability companies allow the division of management authority, profit sharing and ownership rights among the owners to be very flexible. Partnerships fall into two categories.

    General partners are subject to unlimited liability. If a business can't pay its debts, its creditors can demand payment from the general partners' personal assets. General partners have the authority and responsibility to manage the business. They're analogous to the president and other officers of a corporation.

    Limited partners escape the unlimited liability that the general partners have. They are not responsible as individuals, for the liabilities of the partnership. These are junior partners who have ownership rights to the profits of the business, but they don't generally participate in the high-level management of the business. A partnership must have one or more general partners.

    A limited liability company (LLC) is becoming more prevalent among smaller businesses. An LLC is like a corporation regarding limited liability and it's like a partnership regarding the flexibility of dividing profit among the owners. Its advantage over other types of ownership is its flexibility in how profit and management authority are determined. This can have a downside.

    The owners must enter into very detailed agreements about how the profits and management responsibilities are divided. It can get very complicated and generally requires the services of a lawyer to draw up the agreement. A partnership or LLC agreement specifies how profits will be divided among the owners. While stockholders of a corporation receive a share of profit that's directly related to how many shares they own, a partnership or LLC does not have to divide profit according to how much each partner invested. Invested capital is only of the factors that are used in allocating and distributing profits.

         
    32 What is a sole proprietorship

     

    What is a sole proprietorship? A sole proprietorship is the business or an individual who has decided not to carry his business as a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership or limited liability company. This kind of business is not a separate entity. Any time a person regularly provides services for a fee, sells things at a flea market or engage in any business activity whose primary purpose is to make a profit, that person is a sole proprietor. If they carry on business activity to make profit or income, the IRS requires that you file a separate Schedule C "Profit or Loss From a Business" with your annual individual income tax return.

    Schedule C summarizes your income and expenses from your sole proprietorship business. As the sold proprietor of a business, you have unlimited liability, meaning that if your business can't pay all it liabilities, the creditors to whom your business owes money can come after your personal assets. Many part-time entrepreneurs may not know this, but it's an enormous financial risk. If they are sued or can't pay their bills, they are personally liable for the business's liabilities.

    A sole proprietorship has no other owners to prepare financial statements for, but the proprietor should still prepare these statements to know how his business is doing. Banks usually require financial statements from sole proprietors who apply for loans. A partnership needs to maintain a separate capital or ownership account for each partners.

    The total profit of the firm is allocated into these capital accounts, as spelled out in the partnership agreement. Although sole proprietors don't have separate invested capital from retained earnings like corporations do, they still need to keep these two separate accounts for owners' equity - not only to track the business, but for the benefit of any future buyers of the business.

         
    33 Budgeting

     

    Budgeting Ugh, budgeting is one of those topics we'd rather avoid, but in business, it's an absolute necessity. To prepare a reasoned and thoughtful budget, an accountant must start with a broad-based critical analysis of the most recent actual performance and position of the business by the managers who are responsible for the results. Then the managers decide on specific and concrete goals for the coming year. It demands a fair amount of management time and energy. Budgets should be worth this time and effort. It's one of the key components of a manager's job. To construct budged financial statements, a manager needs good models of the profit, cash flow and financial condition of your business. Models are blueprints or schematics of how things work. A business budget is, at its core, a financial blueprint of the business. Budgeting relies on financial models that are the foundation for preparing budgeted financial statements. Those statements include: --Budgeted income statement (or profit report): This statement highlights the critical information that managers need for making decisions and exercising control. Much of the information in an internal profit report is confidential and should not be divulged outside the business. --Budgeted balance sheet: The connections and ratios between sales revenue and expenses and their corresponding assets and liabilities are the elements of the basic model for the budgeted balance sheet. --Budgeted statement of cash flows: The changes in assets and liabilities from their balances at the end of the year just concluded to the projected balances at the end of the coming year determine cash flow from profit for the coming year. Budgeting requires good working models of profit performance, financial condition, and cash flow from profit. Constructing good budgets is a strong incentive for businesses to develop financial models that not only help in the budgeting process but also help managers in making strategic decisions.

         
    34 About gaap

     

    About GAAP While many businesses assume that accountants are bound by generally accepted accounting practices and that these are inviolate, nothing could be further from the truth. Everything is subject to interpretation, and GAAP is no different. For one thing, GAAP themselves permit alternative accounting methods to be used for certain expenses and for revenue in certain specialized types of businesses. For another, GAAP methods require that decisions be made about the timing for recording revenue and expenses, or they require that key factors be quantified. Deciding on the timing of revenue and expenses and putting definite values on these factors require judgments, estimates and interpretations. The mission of GAAP over the years has been to standardize accounting methods in order to bring about uniformity across all businesses. But alternative methods are still permitted for certain basic business expenses. No tests are required to determine whether one method is more preferable than another. A business is free to select whichever method it wants. But it must choose which cost of good sold expense method to use and which depreciation expense method to use. For other expenses and for sales revenue, one general accounting method has been established; there are no alternative methods. However, a business has a fair amount of latitude in actually implementing the methods. One business applies the accounting methods in a conservative manner, and another business applies the methods in a more liberal manner. The end result is more diversity between businesses in their profit measure and financial statements than one might expect, considering that GAAP have been evolving since 1930. The pronouncement on GAAP prepared by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is now more than 1000 pages long. And that doesn't even include the rules and regulations issued by the federal regulatory agency that jurisdiction over the financial reporting and accounting methods of publicly owned businesses - the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

         
    35 Types of costs

     

    Types of Costs Direct costs are those costs that cann be directly attributed to a product or product line, or to one source of sales revenue, or one business unit or operation of the business. An example of a direct cost would be the cost of tires on a new automobile. Indirect costs are very different and can't be attached to any specific product, unit or activity. The cost of labor or benefits for an auto manufacturer is certainly a cost, but it can't be attached to any one vehicle. Each business has to devise a method of allocating indirect costs to different products, sources of sales revenue, business units, etc. Most allocation methods are less than perfect, and generally end up being arbitrary to one degree or another. Business managers and accounts should always keep an eye on the allocation methods used for indirect costs and take the cost figures produced by these methods with a grain of salt. Fixed costs are those costs that stay the same over a relatively broad range of sales volume or production output. They're like an albatross around the neck of business and a company must sell its product at a high enough profit to at least break even. Variable costs can increase and decrease in proportion to changes in sales or production level. Variable costs vary proportionately with changes in production/ Relevant costs are essentially future costs that could be incurred, depending on what strategic course a business takes. If an auto manufacturer decides to increase production, but the cost of tires goes up, than that cost needs to be taken into consideration. Irrelevant costs are those that should be disregarded when deciding on a future course of action. They're costs that could cause you to make a wrong decision. Whereas relevant costs are future costs, irrelevant costs are those costs that were incurred in the past. The money's gone.

         
    36 Measuring costs

     

    Measuring Costs Measuring profits or net income is the most important thing accountants do. The second most important task is measuring costs. Costs are extremely important to running a business and managing them effectively can make a substantial difference in a company's bottom line. Any business that sells products needs to know its product costs and depending on what is being manufactured and/or sold, it can get complicated. Every step in the production process has to be tracked carefully from start to finish. Many manufacturing costs cannot be directly matched with particular products; these are called indirect costs. To calculate the full cost of each product manufactured, accountants devise methods for allocating indirect production costs to specific products. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) provide few guidelines for measuring product cost. Accountants need to determine many other costs, in addition to product costs, such as the costs of the departments and other organizational units of the business; the cost of the retirement plan for the company's employees; the cost of marketing and advertising; the cost of restructuring the business or the cost of a major recall of products sold by the company, should that ever become necessary. Cost accounting serves two broad purposes: measuring profit and furnishing relevant information to managers. What makes it confusing is that there's no one set method for measuring and reporting costs, although accuracy is paramount. Cost accounting can fall anywhere on a continuum between conservative or expansive. The phrase actual cost depends entirely on the particular methods used to measure cost. These can often be as subjective and nebulous as some systems for judging sports. Again accuracy is extremely important. The total cost of goods or products sold is the first and usually largest expense deducted from sales revenue in measuring profit.

         
    37 Parts of an income statement, part 1

     

    Parts of an Income Statement, part 1 The first and most important part of an income statement is the line reporting sales revenue. Businesses need to be consistent from year to year regarding when they record sales. For some business, the timing of recording sales revenue is a major problem, especially when the final acceptance by the customer depends on performance tests or other conditions that have to be satisfied. For example, when does an ad agency report the sales revenue for a campaign it's prepared for its client? When the work is completed and sent to the client for approval? When the client approves it? When the ads appear in the media? Or when the billing is complete? These are issues a company must decide on for reporting sales revenue, and they must be consistent each year, and the timing of reporting should be noted on the financial statement. The next line in an income statement is the cost of goods sold expense. There are three methods of reporting cost of goods sold expense. One is called "first in-first out" (FIFO); another is the "last in-last out" (LIFO) method and the last is the average cost method. Cost of goods sold expense is a huge item in an income statement and how it's reported can make a substantial impact on the reported bottom line. Other items in an income statement include inventory write-downs. A business should regularly inspect its inventory carefully to determine any losses due to theft, damage and deterioration, and to apply the lower of cost or market (LCM) method. Bad debts are also an important component of the income statement. Bad debts are those owed to a business by customers who bought on credit (accounts receivable) but are not going to be paid. Again the timing of when bad debts are reported is crucial. Do you report it before or after any collection efforts are exhausted?

         
    38 Parts of an income statement, part 2

     

    Parts of an Income Statement, Part 2 Of course profit and cost of goods sold expense are the two most critical components of an income statement, or at least they're what people will look at first. But an income statement is truly the sum of its parts, and they all need to be considered carefully, consistently and accurately. In reporting depreciation expense, a business can use a short-life method and load most of the expense over the first few years, or a longer-life method and spread the expense evenly over the years. Depreciation is a big expense for some businesses and the method of reporting is especially critical for them. One of the more complex elements of a an income statement is the line reporting employee pensions and post-retirement benefits. The GAAP rule on this expense is complex and several key estimates must be made by the business, such as the expected rate of return on the portfolio of funds set aside for these future obligations. This and other estimates affect the amount of expense recorded. Many products are sold with expressed or implied warranties and guarantees. The business should estimate the cost of these future obligations and record this amount as an expense in the same period that the goods are sold, along with the cost of goods expense. It can't really wait until customers actually return products for repair or replacement, should be forecast as a percent of the total products sold. Other operating expenses that are reported in an income statement may also have timing or estimating considerations. Some expenses are also discretionary in nature, which means that how much is spent during the year depends on the discretion of management. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) measures the sales revenue less all the expenses above this line. It depends on all the decisions made for recording sales revenue and expenses and how the accounting methods are implemented.

         
    39 Parts of income statement, part 3

     

    Parts of an Income Statement, Part 3 While some lines of an income statement depend on estimates or forecasts, the interest expense line is a basic equation. When accounting for income tax expense, however, a business can use different accounting methods for some of its expenses than it uses for calculating its taxable income. The hypothetical amount of taxable income, if the accounting methods used were used in the tax return is calculated. Then the income tax based on this hypothetical taxable income is fitured. This is the income tax expense reported in the income statement. This amount is reconciled with the actual amount of income tax owed based on the accounting methods used for income tax purposes. A reconciliation of the two different income tax amounts is then provided in a footnote on the income statement. Net income is like earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) and can vary considerably depending on which accounting methods are used to report sales revenue and expenses. This is where profit smoothing can come into play to manipulate earnings. Profit smoothing crosses the line from choosing acceptable accounting methods from the list of GAAP and implementing these methods in a reasonable manner, into the gray area of earnings management that involves accounting manipulation. It's incumbent on managers and business owners to be involved in the decisions about which accounting methods are used to measure profit and how those methods are actually implemented. A manager can be requires to answer questions about the company's financial reports on many occasions. It's therefore critical that any officer or manager in a company be thoroughly familiar with how the company's financial statements are prepared. Accounting methods and how they're implemented vary from business to business. A company's methods can fall anywhere on a continuum that's either left or right of center of GAAP.

         
    40 How to analyze a financial statement

     

    How to analyze a financial statement It's obvious financial statement have a lot of numbers in them and at first glance it can seem unwieldy to read and understand. One way to interpret a financial report is to compute ratios, which means, divide a particular number in the financial report by another. Financial statement ratios are also useful because they enable the reader to compare a business's current performance with its past performance or with another business's performance, regardless of whether sales revenue or net income was bigger or smaller for the other years or the other business. In order words, using ratios can cancel out difference in company sizes. There aren't many ratios in financial reports. Publicly owned businesses are required to report just one ratio (earnings per share, or EPS) and privately-owned businesses generally don't report any ratios. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) don't require that any ratios be reported, except EPS for publicly owned companies. Ratios don't provide definitive answers, however. They're useful indicators, but aren't the only factor in gauging the profitability and effectiveness of a company. One ratio that's a useful indicator of a company's profitability is the gross margin ratio. This is the gross margin divided by the sales revenue. Businesses don't discose margin information in their external financial reports. This information is considered to be proprietary in nature and is kept confidential to shield it from competitors. The profit ratio is very important in analyzing the bottom-line of a company. It indicates how much net income was earned on each $100 of sales revenue. A profit ratio of 5 to 10 percent is common in most industries, although some highly price-competitive industries, such as retailers or grocery stores will show profit ratios of only 1 to 2 percent.

         
    41 Earnings per share

     

    What is earnings per share Publicly owned companies must report earnings per share (EPS) below the net income line in their income statements. This is mandated by generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP). The EPS gives investors a means of determining the amount the business earned on its stock share investments. In other words, EPS tells investors how much net income the business earned for each stock share they own. It's calculated by dividing net income by the total number of capital stock share. It's important to the stockholders who want the net income of the business to be communicated to them on a per share basis so they can compare it with the market price of their shares. Private businesses don't have to report EPS because stockholders focus more on the business's total net income. Publicly-held companies actually report two EPS figures, unless they have what's known as a simple capital structure. Most publicly-held companies though, have complex capital structures and have to report two EPS figures. One is called the basic EPS; the other is called the diluted EPS. Basic EPS is based on the number of stock shares that are outstanding. Diluted earnings are based on shares that are outstanding and shares that may be issued in the future in the form of stock options. Obviously this is a complicated process. An accountant has to adjust the EPS formula for any number of occurrences or changes in the business. A business might issue additional stock shares during the year and buy back some of its own shares. Or it might issue several classes of stock, which will cause net income to be divided into two or more pools - one pool for each class of stock. A merger, acquisition or divestiture will also impact the formula for EPS.

         
    42 What is price earnings ratio

     

    42 What is price/earnings ratio The price/earning (P/E) ratio is another measurement that's of particular interest to investors in public businesses. The P/E ratio gives you an idea of how much you're paying in the current price for stock shares for each dollar of earning. Earnings prop up the market value of stock shares, not the book value of the stock shares that's reported in the balance sheet. The P/E ratio is a reality check on just how high the current market price is in relation to the underlying profit that the business is earning. Extraordinarily high P/E ratios are justified only when investors think that the company's earnings per share (EPS) has a lot of upside potential in the future. The P/E ratio is calculated dividing the current market price of the stock by the most recent trailing 12 months diluted EPS. Stock share prices bounce around day to day and are subject to big changes on short notice. The current P/E ratio should be compared with the average stock market P/E to gauge whether the business selling above or below the market average. P/E ratios are currently running high, despite a four-year slump in the stock market. P/E ratios vary from industry to industry and from year to year. One dollar of EPS may command only a $10 market value for a mature business in a no-growth industry, while a dollar of EPS in a dynamic business in a growth industry may have a $30 market value per dollar of earnings, or net income. To sum up, the price/earnings ratio, or P/E ratio is the current market price of a capital stock divided by its trailing 12 months' diluted earnings per share (EPS) or its basic earnings per share if the business does not report diluted EPS. A low P/E may signal an underbalued stock or a pessimistic forecast by investors. A high P/E may reveal an overvalued stock or might be based on an optimistic forecast by investors.

         
    43 Private vs. public reporting

     

    43 What's the difference between private and public company reporting A public corporation is a business whose securities are traded on the public stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. A private company is held solely by its owners and is not traded publicly. When the shareholders of a private business receive the periodical financial reports, they are entitled to assume that the company's financial statements and footnotes are prepared in accordance with GAAP. Otherwise the president of chief officer of the business should clearly warn the shareholders that GAAP have not been followed in one or more respects. The content of a private business's annual financial report is often minimal. It includes the three primary financial statements - the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows. There's generally no letter from the chief executive, no photographs, no charts. In contrast, the annual report of a publicly traded company has more bells and whistles to it. There are also more requirements for reporting. These include the management discussion and analysis (MD&A) section that presents the top managers' interpretation and analysis of the business's profit performance and other important financial developments over the year. Another section required for public companies is the earnings per share (EPS). This is the only ratio that a public business is required to report, although most public companies report a few others as well. A three-year comparative income statement is also required. Many publicly owned businesses make their required filings with the SEC, but they present very different annual financial reports to their stockholders. A large number of public companies include only condensed financial information rather than comprehensive financial statements. They will generally refer the reader to a more detailed SEC financial report for more specifics.

         
    44 What are other ratios

     

    What are other ratios used in financial reporting The dividend yield ratio tells investors how much cash income they're receiving on their stock investment in a business. This is calculated by dividing the annual cash dividend per share by the current market price of the stock. This can be compared with the interest rate on high-grade debt securities that pay interest, such as Treasure bonds and Treasury notes, which are the safest. Book value per share is calculated by dividing total owners' equity by the total number of stock shares that are outstanding. While EPS is more important to determine the market value of a stock, book value per share is the measure of the recorded value of the company's assets less its liabilities, the net assets backing up the business's stock shares. It's possible that the market value of a stock could be less than the book value per share. The return on equity (ROE) ratio tells how much profit a bus8iness earned in comparison to the book value of its stockholders' equity. This ratio is especially useful for privately owned businesses, which have no way of determining the current value of owners' equity. ROE is also calculated for public corporations, but it plays a secondary role to other ratios. ROE is calculated by dividing net income by owners' equity. The current ratio is a measure of a business's short-term solvency, in other words, its ability to pay it liabilities that come due in the near future. This ratio is a rough indicator of whether cash on hand plus the cash to be collected from accounts receivable and from selling inventory will be enough to pay off the liabilities that will come due in the next period. It is calculated by dividing the current assets by the current liabilities. Businesses are expected to maintain a minimum 2:1 current ratio, which means its current assets should be twice its current liabilities.

         
    45 What is acid test ratio and roa ratio

     

    What is acid test ratio and ROA ratio? Investors calculate the acid test ratio, also known as the quick ratio or the pounce ratio. This ratio excludes inventory and prepaid expenses, which the current ratio includes, and it limits assets to cash and items that the business can quickly convert to cash. This limited category of assets is known as quick or liquid assets. The acid-text ratio is calculated by dividing the liquid assets by the total current liabilities. This ratio is also known as the pounce ratio to emphasize that you're calculating for a worst-case scenario, where the business's creditors could pounce on the business and demand quick payment of the business's liabilities.

    Short term creditors do not have the right to demand immediate payment, except in unusual circumstances. This ratio is a conservative way to look at a business's capability to pay its short-term liabilities. One factor that affects the bottom-line profitability of a business is whether it uses debt to its advantage. A business may realize a financial leverage gain, meaning it earns more profit on the money it has borrowed than the interest paid for the use of the borrowed money. A good part of a business's net income for the year may be due to financial leverage.

    The ROA ratio is determined by dividing the earnings before interest and income tax (EBIT) by the net operating assets. An investor compares the ROA with the interest rate at which the corporation borrowed money. If a business's ROA is 14 percent and the interest rate on its debt is 8 percent, the business's net gain on its capital is 6 percent more than what it's paying in interest.

    ROA is a useful ratio for interpreting profit performance, aside from determining financial gain or loss. ROA is called a capital utilization test that measures how profit before interest and income tax was earned on the total capital employed by the business.

         
     
         
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