Let's use the following amounts to illustrate this situation. A company's income statement for a recent year reported revenues of $2,000,000 and expenses of $2,075,000 for a net loss of $75,000. The expenses included depreciation expense of $100,000. A comparison of the company's balance sheets reveals that its accounts receivable decreased by $10,000 and its accounts payable increased by $7,000 during the same year. To keep our illustration simple, let's assume that except for cash, the reported amounts for the other current assets and current liabilities remained the same.
Now let's follow the indirect method of preparing the operating activities section of the statement of cash flows. We begin with the net income for the year, which was a negative $75,000. Next we add the depreciation expense of $100,000 because the depreciation expense reduced net income but did not use cash. Then we add the decrease in accounts receivable. A decrease in accounts receivable indicates that the company collected more cash than the amount of its current year's sales. Lastly, the increase in accounts payable is added. The increase in accounts payable indicates that the company paid out less cash than the amount of expenses shown on the income statement.
The total of the above amounts, (75,000) + 100,000 + 10,000 + 7,000 is a positive net cash flow from operating activities of $42,000.