Financial Analytics Toolkit: Cash Flow Projections
This note reviews the basics of projecting cash flows for a typical operating decision. To find the economic consequences of any decision, one needs to project the cash flow effects of that decision and discount those at the appropriate hurdle rate. The focus on cash flows arises because any evaluation of economic impact must recognize opportunity costs-the other uses to which one might allocate resources available to a firm. This note discusses two typical ways to organize operating information to calculate cash flow, typically referred to as free cash flow in this context. The first estimates the cash consequences related to various elements of a decision. The second starts with a typical accounting estimate of operating income before taxes and then makes adjustments. The concepts in this note are applied to the firm Morgan Industries, a setting that has been integrated across all the Financial Analytics Toolkit series of technical notes.