Profit and Loss Statement

A financial statement known as a profit and loss (P&L) statement provides an overview of the revenues, expenditures, and expenses incurred for a given time period, typically a quarter or fiscal year. By examining these documents, it becomes apparent whether a business can generate profit through increasing sales, reducing expenses, or implementing both strategies simultaneously. P&L statements are frequently displayed using the cash or accrual method. P&L statements are used by investors and corporate managers to assess a company's financial condition.

How Profit and Loss (P&L) Statements Work

Together with the balance sheet and the cash flow statement, the P&L statement is one of the three financial statements that every publicly traded company releases on a quarterly and annual basis. Because it shows the level of profit or loss a company has incurred, the Profit and Loss Statement is often the most widely recognized and commonly used financial statement in a business plan.

P&L statements are also referred to as:

  • Statement of profit and loss
  • Statement of operations
  • Statement of financial results or income
  • Earnings statement
  • Expense statement
  • Income statement

Similar to the cash flow statement, the P&L or income statement displays changes in accounts over a predetermined time period. The balance sheet, on the other hand, provides a picture of the company's assets and liabilities at any given time. Given that a business might record revenues and expenses before actual cash exchanges hands when using the accrual method of accounting, it is crucial to compare the income statement with the cash flow statement.

As may be seen in the example below, this document follows a general format. It starts with a revenue entry, or top line, and deducts business expenses such as cost of goods sold, operating expenses, tax charges, and interest expenses. Net income, which is also known as profit or earnings, is the difference, or bottom line.

Types of Profit and Loss (P&L) Statements

A P&L statement can be created in one of two ways, as was mentioned above. The cash method and the accrual technique are these.

Cash method

Only when cash enters and exits the business is the cash method, also known as the cash accounting method, used. This is a fairly straightforward system that merely tracks money that has been paid or received. When money is received in a transaction, it is recorded as income; when it is spent on obligations, it is recorded as a liability. Smaller businesses and consumers who want to manage their own money frequently employ this technique.

Accrual method

Revenue is recorded using the accrual accounting method as it is earned. This indicates that a business utilizing the accrual technique records the amount of money it anticipates receiving in the future. For instance, even when it hasn't yet received payment, a business that delivers a good or service to a customer records the revenue on its P&L statement. Similar to assets, liabilities are recorded even if no expenses have been paid by the business.

Why are profit and loss (P&L) statements important?

A Profit and Loss (P&L) statement is among the three key financial statements prepared by businesses, alongside the balance sheet and the cash flow statement. The primary objective of the P&L statement is to present a company's revenue and expenses over a specific period, usually one fiscal year.

By integrating this data with insights from the other two financial statements, investors and analysts can utilize this information to evaluate the profitability of the business. An investor may calculate a company's return on equity (ROE) by comparing its net income (as reflected in the P&L statement) to the shareholder's equity (as presented on the balance sheet).


A financial statement that lists the revenues, expenditures, and expenses incurred over a given time period is called a profit and loss (P&L) statement.

Together with the balance sheet and the cash flow statement, the P&L statement is one of the three financial statements that every publicly traded company releases on a quarterly and annual basis.

The P&L statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement all work in tandem to give a comprehensive picture of a company's entire financial performance.

Financial statements can be prepared using either the cash method or the accrual method of accounting.

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