Cash and Equivalents

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Cash equivalents represent current assets that are easily convertible to cash such as short term bonds, savings account, money market funds, or certificate of deposits (CDs). One of the important consideration companies make when classifying assets as cash equivalent is that investments they report on their balance sheets under current assets should have almost no risk of change in value over the next few months (usually 3 months).

Cash 
 = 
Bank Deposits 
+  
Liquidities 

Cash or Cash Equivalents are the most liquid of all assets found on company's balance sheet. It is used in calculating many of the firm's liquidity ratios and is a good indicator of overall financial health of a company. Companies with a lot of cash are usually attractive takeover targets. Cash Equivalents are balance sheet items that are typically reported using currency printed on notes.

Cash and Equivalents In A Nutshell

Cash and equivalents is exactly what it says, cash and anything that can be converted to cash quickly. Liquid assets would fall under this category and that could be a car, some machinery, or anything that can sell quickly to be turned into cash.

When taking a look at the fundamentals of a stock, you check over everything, the debt, cash flow, outstand shares, and then there is cash and equivalents.

Closer Look at Cash and Equivalents

This is important for a few reasons, and first is you want to know how quickly the company can use these in the case of a complete meltdown in cash flow. There are ratios out there that can tell you how many times the company can pay debts, but you want to ensure cash and equivalents are at respectable levels.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of a company and if that begins to slow there could be some real issues on the horizon. Typically you will know if a company is having cash flow issues and Sears is an example as money continues to be pumped into the company while it is failing.

With all of this being said, be sure to take a real good look at this data point and discover what makes up this line item. Of course there are many other items you should be looking at beside cash and equivalents, but this is a main factor. Technically, this may not be of much use as there is not much of an indicator. Sure there may be data points you can plot at the bottom of a chart, but this should be used more fundamentally than anything. If you ever get stuck, reach out to an investing community and see what others are doing in the market today. When in doubt, research more and more by surfing the web and reading articles. It is important to know what to look for in a stock and learning this will be time well spent.