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Balance Sheet

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A balance sheet is a snapshot of the financial position of a company. On the left side are the assets, and on the right side are the liabilities and owners' equity. Thus the balance sheet represents the fundamental accounting equation: Owners Equity (or Net Worth) = Assets - Liabilities (or Net Assets). The assets are listed in the order they can be converted to cash; the liabilities, in the order they must be liquidated. Thus the balance sheet shows whether the company is liquid, ie, whether it can meet its short-term obligations. The balance sheet also shows the company's leverage, ie, the ratio between capital supplied by creditors and capital supplied by owners. The balance sheet has several drawbacks, however. Some asset values on the balance sheet are historical and don't accurately reflect current values. Moreover, not all of the company's assets (like customer loyalty) and not all of its actual liabilities (like off balance sheet items) are reflected in the balance sheet. Despite these negatives, the balance sheet is a primary tool for both credit and equity analysts.



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