Surfers Paradise, Australia (PressExposure) August 04, 2011 -- For most investors we have to depend on financial statements issued by companies, although over the years we have seen many companies falter even when reporting massive profits in prior years.
Veteran Investor, Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway has more to say on this topic. In this year's letter to shareholders, Mr. Buffet stated "never trust the financial statements of companies, and don't just focus on profit figures....research and focus on broader financial figures", as reported by The Daily Telegraph March 7, 2011, Vol.1, No 2274.
So, can we rely on financial statements? Yes and No!
RP Maths Pty Ltd, an investment analyst, with many years of investment research stated that financial statements should be viewed with extreme caution, at best.
As Investors, we should understand that companies cannot give us a more detailed picture of the company and this is mainly due to competitive reasons for not revealing their strengths and weaknesses.
If that is the case, then we should then ask if the financial statements issued can be used to assist us in making a reasonable decision about the company?
The figures in financial statements are mainly collated to show how much profits are made by the company. To arrive at a profit, companies are limited to abiding by rules set by the taxation department of countries as to what can be claimed as expenses, in order to come to a profit or loss.
In essence, it is a document that shows at the end of the day what taxes are to be paid from profits. This suits the requirement of taxation departments.
Profit figures are also used to show various ratios like price earnings, dividend growth and yield. These are the main figures investment brokers tend to use.
RP Maths Pty Ltd has maintained its position over the years that it is difficult to establish that this profit route is a good indicator of the viability of the company.
Especially when we consider that it is the unilateral rules of taxation authorities that ascertain what should be included in the calculation of profits and net assets.
Therefore a skilled investment analysis should be conducted on each aspect of the financial data that is allowed to be given to us.
Analysis of other financial information such as assets, inventory turnover, and liabilities should be conducted.
One of the more pertinent sources of information is available in the Notes to Financial Statements. This gives us more information on the composition of each financial data.
The Notes also provide us with historical information and the structure and policies that had an effect on the financial data.
Rabind Elias, Director and investment analyst at RP Maths Pty Ltd, states that the Notes are in fact more informative than the actual figures displayed on financial statements.
However, we should still keep in mind that the financial statements are mainly written up to show taxable income. Additionally all the figures stated are based on past performance.
So, as Investors, what can we do to assess companies?
One of the main areas is assessing the financial viability of the company. An investment analysis needs to be carried out in this area to appreciate any viability of the company.
By investment analysis, we can at least have an idea of how vulnerable the company may be in different market conditions, so that you can invest wisely.
Financial viability studies and work are mainly conducted by investment analysts. These reports are generally contracted to the broking community and some investment analyst reports are available to the general public.
Trusting Financial Statements have its limitation, and looking further into the figures and having an understanding of the " how" and the "why" these figures are given will provide us with a clearer insight into the company.
Relying on bottom line figures such as Profits and figures on face value as stated in Financial Statements is not a good option.
The current perception that annual reports, broker reports etc are a good indicator of a company cannot be taken wholeheartedly without a further breakdown of that information.
By conducting an Investment Analysis of all publically available information, through an Investment Analyst, will further strengthen your decision making skills.
RP Maths Pty Ltd provides an independent assessment of your investment or intended investment and invest wisely!
You may contact RP Maths Pty Ltd on [http://www.rpmaths.com]