Free Cash Flow and Net Free Cash Flow

by | Investment Analysis

Free Cash Flow

Free Cash Flow Calculation

Free Cash Flow (FCF) is the cash available to stakeholders after all expenses, interest, taxes, capital expenditures, and current portion of long term debt are deducted from revenues.

Free Cash Flow is important to stakeholders (common stock owners, debt holders, preferred stock holders, convertible stock holders, etc.) because it can provide a more accurate picture of an entity’s financial health than net income. Net income includes non-cash accounting adjustments and may not accurately reflect crucial aspects of a company’s health.

FCF is an important and useful metric to evaluate whether a company has sufficient cash resources to meet the goals of the entity and its’ stakeholders.

Related Reading: Types of Cash Flow & Cash Flow Calculations Guide


Free Cash Flow Calculation

Free Cash Flow (FCF) = Operating Income (revenue – cost of sales) + Depreciation – Taxes +/- Change in Working Capital – Capital Expenditures

Or to simplify:

Free Cash Flow (FCF) = Operating Cash Flow (OCF) – Capital Expenditures

FCF is the cash available to distribute to stakeholders (debt and equity holders) after the bills are paid, and after provisions have been made for future growth of the enterprise. It is important because it represents the money available to enhance shareholders or the owners of the enterprise.

Now let’s take it one step further:

Net Free Cash Flow Calculation

Net Free Cash Flow makes further allowances for the current portion (1 year) of long term debt, and the current dividends the company currently intends to pay (1 year).

Net Free Cash Flow (NFCF) = Free Cash Flow (FCF) – current portion of long term debt – current portion of future dividends.

Importance of Free Cash Flow

Use free cash flow calculations to evaluate the strength and health of an organization. A company with a negative FCF may not have the liquidity to stay in business without obtaining additional cash through borrowing or raising equity capital. Falling cash flows are a warning sign that the company that future earnings may not be able to grow.

A company with positive net free cash flow is generating the cash needed to pay operating bills, meet working capital requirement, pay taxes, meet current interest and debt payments, invest in capital expenditures, and pay dividends. Rising cash flows can indicate a company is healthy and many times precedes increasing earnings and enhanced shareholder value.

Related Reading: Company Financial Statements: Analysis and Purpose

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While Arbor Investment Planner has used reasonable efforts to obtain information from reliable sources, we make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of third-party information presented herein. The sole purpose of this analysis is information. Nothing presented herein is, or is intended to constitute investment advice. Consult your financial advisor before making investment decisions.

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