free cash flow


Also found in: Acronyms, Wikipedia.

Free Cash Flow

A measure of a company's ability to generate the cash flow necessary to maintain operations. There is more than one way to calculate free cash flow, but perhaps the simplest is to subtract a company's capital expenditures from its cash flow from operations. Some analysts believe that free cash flow is more important than other measures of financial health because it measures how much cash a company has and can make. This differs from other measures, which are sometimes accused of using both legitimate and illegitimate forms of accounting to make a company look healthier than it really is.

free cash flow

The cash flow that remains after taking into account all cash flows including fixed-asset acquisitions, asset sales, and working-capital expenditures. The definition of free cash flow varies depending on the purpose of the analysis for which it is being used.

Free cash flow.

A business's free cash flow statement may differ significantly from its cash flow statement. The cash flow statement generally represents earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

Cash flow and EBITDA focus specifically on the profitability of the company's actual business operations, independent of outside factors such as debt and taxes. Free cash flow, however, reports the net movement of cash in and out of the company.

To determine free cash flow, equity analysts add up all the company's incoming cash and then subtract cash that the company is obligated to pay out, which includes all expenses, debt service, preferred dividends, and capital expenditures. The result tells you how much cash was left over or how short of cash the company was at the end of the fiscal period.

References in periodicals archive ?
Many users unwittingly ignore what is packed into that line item when computing free cash flow.
Growth must be profitable to be of value, profitable enough to generate healthy free cash flows - that is, the money left over after subtracting expenses, taxes, and capital investment from revenues.