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Business Finance

What is Free Cash Flow (FCF) – Definition and Example

Free cash flow (FCF) is a financial metric that measures a company’s ability to generate cash after accounting for capital expenditures. It is an important indicator of a company’s financial health and ability to pay dividends, make acquisitions, and invest in growth opportunities.

FCF is calculated by taking a company’s operating cash flow (OCF) and subtracting capital expenditures (CapEx). OCF is the cash generated from a company’s operations, while CapEx is the cash spent on investments in property, plant, and equipment (PPE).

For example, if a company has an OCF of $100 million and CapEx of $50 million, its FCF would be $50 million. This means the company has $50 million in cash left over after accounting for investments in PPE.

A positive FCF is considered to be a good sign, as it means a company is generating more cash than it’s using in its operations. It also indicates that a company has a strong financial position and is able to pay dividends, make acquisitions, and invest in growth opportunities. On the other hand, a negative FCF is considered to be a red flag, as it means a company is using more cash than it’s generating, and it may indicate financial difficulties.

It’s important to note that FCF is different from net income, which is a measure of a company’s profitability. Net income takes into account a variety of factors such as revenue, expenses, and taxes, while FCF only measures cash flow. Additionally, FCF can also be affected by a company’s accounting methods and may not always reflect the true cash position of the company.

In summary, Free Cash Flow (FCF) is a financial metric that measures a company’s ability to generate cash after accounting for capital expenditures. It is an important indicator of a company’s financial health and ability to pay dividends, make acquisitions, and invest in growth opportunities. Positive FCF is considered to be a good sign, while negative FCF is considered to be a red flag, it’s important to consider it along with other financial metrics and market conditions.