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Free Cash Flows

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Cash not required for operations or for reinvestment. Often defined as earnings before interest (often obtained from the operating income line on the income statement) less capital expenditures less the change in working capital. In terms of a formula: free cash flows = Sales (Revenues from operations) - COGS (cost of goods sold-labor, material, book depreciation) - SG&A (Selling, general administrative costs) EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes or operating earnings) - Taxes (cash taxes) EBIAT (Earnings before interest after taxes) + DEP (book depreciation) - CAPX (capital expenditures) - ChgWC (Change in working capital) C (free cash flows) There is an issue as to whether you want to define the FCFs to the firm as a whole (the cash flow to all of its security holders), or the FCFs only to the firm's equity holders. For firm valuation, you want the former; for stock valuation you want the latter. To value the firm, calculate the stream of FCFs to the firm and discount this stream by the firm's WACC (weighted average cost of capital). This will give you the value of a levered firm, including the tax benefits of debt financing. Alternatively, you can discount the firm's FCFs by its unlevered cost of capital and add separately the present value of the tax benefits. To value the firm's equity, you can either take the above number and subtract the market value of all outstanding debt (liabilities) or you can calculate the FCFs to the firm's equity holders and discount this stream by the firm's levered equity cost of capital. Notice that changes in working capital have the same effect on free cash flows as do changes in physical capital, i.e., capital expenditures. For example, suppose you had to spend $XX to increase the capacity of your plant. This expenditure would be a reduction in free cash flow in the year it was made. Likewise, if you had to increase the level of your cash balance, inventory or receivables by $XX to accommodate greater sales, then this too would result in a like reduction in free cash flows in the year the level of working capital was increased. [Definition and discussion courtesy of Professor Michael Bradley.]

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You participate in a 401(k) retirement savings plan by deferring part of your salary into an account set up in your name. Any earnings in the account are federal income tax deferred. If you change jobs, 401(k) plans are portable, which means that you can move your accumulated assets to a new employer's plan, if the plan allows transfers, or to a rollover ira.With a traditional 401(k), you defer pretax income, which reduces the income tax you owe in the year you made the contribution. You pay tax on all withdrawals at your regular rate. With the newer Roth 401(k), which is offered in some but not all plans, you contribute after-tax income. Earnings accumulate tax deferred, but your withdrawals are completely tax free if your account has been open at least five years and you're at least 59 1/2.In either type of 401(k), you can defer up to the federal cap, plus an annual catch-up contribution if you're 50 or older. However, you may be able to contribute less than the cap if you're a highly compensated employee or if your employer limits contributions to a percentage of your salary. Your employer may match some or all of your contributions, based on the terms of the plan you participate in, but matching isn't required.With a 401(k), you are responsible for making your own investment decisions by choosing from among investment alternatives offered by the plan. Those alternatives typically include separate accounts, mutual funds, annuities, fixed-income investments, and sometimes company stock.You may owe an additional 10% federal tax penalty if you withdraw from a 401(k) before you reach 59 1/2. You must begin to take minimum required distributions by April 1 of the year following the year you turn 70 1/2 unless you're still working. But if you prefer, you can roll over your traditional 401(k) assets into a traditional ira and your Roth 401(k) assets into a roth ira.

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