Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Free Cash Flow

May 2, 2006

Those that follow satellite radio are very familiar with the term Free Cash Flow of Cash Flow Break Even. This is not only a term.....it is an important metric that investors should be cognicent of and aware of.

Wikipedia defines Free Cash Flow:

Free cash flow measures a firm's cash flow remaining after all expenditures required to maintain or expand the business have been paid off--for example, interest payments and investments in "property, plant and equipment" (PP&E). The free cash flow statement subtracts the cash flows from investing from the cash flows from operations. In other words, it represents the cash that the business generates from operations after all investments have been made.

Free cash flow for a US company can be calculated from its public financial filings by referring to the statement of cash flows and subtracting all expenditures on "PP&E" and any other assets used to maintain or expand the business from the firm's cash flow produced by operating activities.

Free cash flow is a measure of the cash produced by the firm in a given period on behalf of equity holders. One key measure of the value of a firm's equity is considered to be the present value of all free cash flows. In contrast to accounting measures of value, free cash flows are more transparent in the sense that a firm engages in less "editing" of the input values before publishing them in financial statements; they are more complete in that they factor in cash uses (and sources) typically ignored by accounting measures of income such as expansion (or shrinkage) in accounts receivables; but they require more expertise and judgment to analyze because they directly reveal the "lumpiness" in a firm's flow of capital expenditures, which accounting measures smooth out. When referring to free cash flow, one might be inclined to think of it as free from a cost standpoint. But that's not it. In this context, "free cash flow" refers to the cash generated by operating activities that is free, or available to be returned to its capital providers. Free cash flow is the operating cash flow, after capital expenditures, that a business generates or absorbs in a period.

Freecash flow is significant because it represents the cash that is available for distribution to the company's shareholders or bondholders, if positive, or the cash that the shareholders or bondholders have to inject to finance the business, otherwise.

For investors in satellite radio, Sirius is guiding that they may be at Freecash Flow by Q4 2006 and all of 2007. XM is guiding that they anticipate Freecash Flow in the second half of 2007.

5/02/2006 10:23:00 AM

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