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Which Financial Statement Reports Revenues and Expenses?

June 27, 2024

Financial statements are official records of a company's financial activities. They give both inside and outside parties a complete view of how the company has performed financially during a certain time. 

There are three main types: the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. Each serves a specific role and provides different financial details. 

Knowing how to read and understand these statements helps people make smart choices about the company's financial well-being and future.

The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet shows a company's financial situation at a particular moment. It lists what the company owns (assets), what it owes (liabilities), and what belongs to shareholders (shareholders' equity). The balance sheet follows a basic rule: Assets equal Liabilities plus Shareholders' Equity.

While the balance sheet gives important details about a company's financial standing, it doesn't show revenues and expenses. Instead, it focuses on the company's resources (assets) and what it owes (liabilities).

The Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tells us about the money coming into and going out of a company during a certain time. It sorts these cash movements into three categories: operations, investments, and financing.

While the cash flow statement covers cash generated from day-to-day business (which links to revenues and expenses), it doesn't show these amounts directly. Instead, it focuses on how easily the company can access cash when needed.

The Income Statement: Reporting Revenues and Expenses

The income statement, also called the profit and loss statement, shows revenues and expenses. It gives a detailed view of how profitable a company is over a certain time.

The income statement starts with revenues. From that, it subtracts the cost of goods sold (COGS) to find gross profit. Then, it deducts operating expenses to get operating profit. 

After factoring in interest and taxes, the statement ends with net income, which is the company's profit after all expenses.

Understanding Revenues

Revenues, also called sales, are the money a company earns from its business, usually from selling goods and services to customers. Revenues are at the top of the income statement and show how well the company is doing financially.

It's crucial to understand that revenues are recorded when they are earned, not necessarily when the company gets paid. This approach, called accrual accounting, records revenues and expenses when they happen, even if the actual cash exchange occurs later.

Understanding Expenses

Expenses are the costs a company pays to earn revenues. They cover things like the cost of goods sold, operating costs such as salaries and rent, and other expenses like interest and taxes.

Similar to revenues, expenses are recorded when they happen, not necessarily when the company pays for them. This rule makes sure that revenues and expenses are matched correctly in the same accounting period, giving a clearer view of how profitable the company is.

Importance of the Income Statement

The income statement is important for investors, creditors, and managers. It shows how well a company can make a profit by boosting revenue, cutting costs, or both. It also gives useful measures like gross profit margin, operating profit margin, and net profit margin.

By looking at income statements from different times, stakeholders can see how well the company is doing over time and predict future profits. Comparing income statements from different companies in the same industry also helps see how well one company does compared to others.

Limitations of the Income Statement

Although the income statement is useful, it has its drawbacks. 

  • Doesn't include non-cash items: It may not reflect non-cash expenses like depreciation, which can affect profitability without impacting cash flow.
  • Limited to historical data: It provides information about past performance but may not predict future outcomes accurately.
  • May not capture one-time or unusual items: It may not adequately account for one-time expenses or revenues that don't occur regularly, affecting the overall picture of profitability.
  • Subject to manipulation: Figures can be adjusted through accounting methods or estimates, impacting the clarity and reliability of reported results.

However, despite these limitations, the income statement is still vital for financial analysis. By knowing how to read and understand it, stakeholders can learn a lot about a company's financial performance and make smart choices.


The income statement is the financial statement that reports revenues and expenses. It provides a comprehensive overview of a company's profitability, offering valuable insights into its ability to generate profit. While the balance sheet and cash flow statement provide important financial information, they do not directly report revenues and expenses.

Understanding financial statements, including the income statement, is crucial for anyone involved in business, finance, or investing. It allows stakeholders to assess a company's financial health, make informed decisions, and plan for the future.

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