Calculating Sustainable Cash Flow: A Study of the S&P 100 Using 2003 Data
Mulford, Charles W.
Ely, Michael L.
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Operating cash flow in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 for the S&P 100 was adjusted to remove items that may provide misleading signals of operating performance. Ten adjustments were made, separated into three categories - (1) where flexibility in GAAP for cash flow reporting was used to alter cash flow, (2) where the requirements of GAAP result in misleading operating cash flow amounts, and (3) where nonrecurring operating cash receipts and payments lead to operating cash flow that is non-sustainable. Adjustments resulted in an average company change in operating cash flow in 2001 of 1.5%, in 2002 of 4.2%, and in 2003 of 0.7%. Certain individual company adjustments were quite significant, resulting in some cases, in much more operating cash flow than actually reported, and in other cases, much less. Many companies had an increase or decrease in operating cash flow of greater than 10% including 35 in 2001, 26 in 2002, and 22 in 2003.