Retained Earnings

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Retained Earnings is a balance sheet account that refers to the portion of company income that is retained by the firm. In other words it is a part of earnings that is not paid out as dividends or otherwise distributed to owners. Retained Earnings are calculated by adding net income to last period retained earnings and subtracting any dividends paid to owners. Retained Earnings shows how the firm utilizes its profits over time. In simple terms, investors can think of retained earnings as the amount of profit the company has reinvested in the business since its inceptions. However the methodology to make a decision over how much profit to retain is different between companies in different industries. For example growing industries tend to retain more of their earnings than more matured industries as they need more assets investment to sustain their growth.