September 09, 2019

What are Retained Earnings?

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What are Retained Earnings?

One of the characteristic features of a market economy is the competition of mostcompanies among themselves. The most important economic indicator showing theeffective operation of a company is retained earnings. The positive dynamics of thisindicator, along with other economic indicators, may indicate a positive activity of thecompany. You will learn in this article what retained earnings is, where it is reflected inthe balance sheet and where it is recorded in other financial statements.

What do retained earnings mean?

Retained earnings is an amount of net income remaining after all expenses, debt, taxes,etc. have been paid and after the distribution of shares among the owners. This conceptis closely intersected with net profit. If the company has no deferred tax liabilities anddividends have not been accrued during the year, then these figures in the annualaccounts coincide. However, retained earnings represent the resulting figure for thereporting year and the entire period of the company's existence, while net profit – onlyfor the reporting period.
Only the owners of the company can dispose of this profit. It happens at the generalmeeting of shareholders based on the stipulated provisions in the constituentdocuments. The actions for eliminating profits are recorded in the minutes of the publicmeeting, and this serves as the basis for the accounting department to form entries forthe use of benefits.
After dividends are paid to shareholders, the remaining net profit is considered to beretained earnings for the reporting year, which are then added to the retained earningsfrom the previous period. Retained earnings are included in a balance sheet and alsohave their statement of retained earnings.
Retained earnings increase when errors are found in the financial statements that led toan overstatement of expenses. Also, they grow in the case of unclaimed dividends byshareholders, if more than six years have passed since their payment date. Accordingly,errors that created an increase in revenues will reduce the amount of retained earningsaccumulated. These corrections are reported in the retained earnings statement asadjustments to the previous retained earnings and are, consequently, reflected in thebalance sheet.
The components of retained earnings are not always funds in the form of cash or on acurrent account. For example, devaluation of fixed assets increases profits but does notadd money. This should be considered when conducting an economic analysis.
What is retained earnings formula?
A retained earnings formula will allow answering better the question: “What are retainedearnings?”. You can also determine any part of it, such as beginning retained earnings,when you have the other values. Here is the equation that you will use for calculation ofthe amount of retained earnings:

It is quite simple to calculate the retained earnings of a business that will be included inthe balance sheet as well as become a part of the statement of retained earnings whenyou have the equation on hand.
Retained earnings calculation
Let’s do the calculation together using the following example of the statement ofretained earnings.

What do retained earnings mean?

First, you take retained earnings from the Balance Sheet of a previous reporting year.This will be your beginning retained earnings. If a company just started operating, thisnumber will equal to zero. Next, you will take net income from the Income Statement forthe current period and add it to the beginning retained earnings.
Then, you will need to calculate the number of dividends paid to the shareholders in thecurrent period. This is declared by the board and can only include a price per share.Thus, you would multiply the price per share by the number of shares. Subtract thedividends paid from the total amount of retained earnings plus net income. As a result,you will get the ending retained earnings.
The ending retained earnings will represent all the retained earnings for the period thatthe company existed and will be included in the Balance Sheet for the current periodunder Owner’s Equity. To get retained earnings only for this period, you would skipadding the beginning earnings to the net income. It should also be noted that you mightneed to add or deduct any adjustments to the retained earnings if necessary (an errorwas made in previous reporting year).

Why do retained earnings matter?

This is another question many ask along with “What are retained earnings?” and“How to calculate retained earnings?”. When summarizing the operations of a business,the most important financial indicator is profit. Its positive dynamics, along with othereconomic indicators, demonstrate the efficiency of the business entity. Furtherdevelopment is influenced by choice of ways to distribute profits, which remains in thehands of the owners of the company.
Management decisions in this matter will determine the strategy and objectives for atleast the next year. Annual bonuses to employees, dividends, the size of the sharecapital and the reserve fund – all this will depend on how the profit is distributed aftercovering all the required payments.

How are profits generally distributed?

If the company has one owner, then there are no problems associated with the use anddistribution of profits. But if there are many owners (for example, in a JSC or LLC),issues arise. The fact is that in such cases, it is much easier to make a profit than todivide it.
Some investors, say, shareholders, want to expand production, i.e., reinvest the money.Others wish to claim their dividends. One group sees the point in increasing the value oftheir securities, while others want good money to be paid each year. When differentgroups of people have diverse and even conflicting goals, they seek compromises.
If you invest all profits received in the reporting year in additional capital, this will be adecision in favor of those who want to reinvest. If you allocate all the earnings fordividends, then there will be no profit, the company will not be able to increase itseconomic power. Therefore, collective owners assume that part of the benefit for thereporting year, which remains after distribution of dividends, may be claimed by theowners not following the results of this year, but following the results of economicactivities in future reporting periods.

What are retained earnings affected by?

What are retained earnings affected by?

From the point of view of financial analysis, retained earnings reflect the dynamics ofthe company's development at the expense of its funds (savings, investments). Thevalue of the indicator difference under the impact of the change in the following items:
⮚ Net profit. If the company did not pay dividends in the current year and did nothave deferred tax liabilities, accounting standards do not imply a difference betweenundistributed and net income.⮚ Dividends paid. Organizations that increase reserve funds or face urgentexpenses are forced to reduce the number of dividend payments, which increases theamount of retained earnings.⮚ Taxes. The increased tax burden on business or contrary favorable conditionsaffects the amount of income left after taxes are paid and in turn, the available funds forthe retained earnings.⮚ Change in business strategy. Acquisition of new land plots, production facilities,vehicles, change of the organizational and legal form can ncrease the tax burden andchange the efficiency of work.

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