A company’s balance sheet provides a big picture of the company’s financial condition. The balance sheet consists of two sections, one listing the company’s assets and another listing its liabilities and equity. The assets section is broken down into a company’s cash and cash equivalents; investments; accounts receivable or money owed from customers, inventories, and fixed assets such as plant and equipment.
The liabilities section lists the company’s accounts payable or money owed, accrued liabilities, short-term debt, and long-term debt. The shareholders’ equity section reflects how much money is invested in the company, how many shares are outstanding, and how much the company has in retained earnings. Retained earnings is a type of savings account that holds the cumulative profits from the company. Retained earnings are used to pay dividends, for example, and are considered a sign of a healthy, profitable company.
The income statement tells you how much revenue is being generated, the company’s expenses, and profits. Looking at the annual income statement rather than a quarterly statement will give you a better idea of the company’s overall position since many companies experience fluctuations in sales volume during the year.