Statement of Retained Earnings Purpose and Uses with Examples


Newer companies generally don’t pay dividends to the shareholders as it needs the money for the growth of the company. Already established businesses usually do pay dividends as it will have enough profit for growth projects as well as the shareholders. Although this statement is not included in the four main general-purpose financial statements, it is considered important to outside users for evaluating changes in the RE account. This statement is often used to prepare before the statement of stockholder’s equity because retained earnings is needed for the overall ending equity calculation. Creditors view this statement as well, as they want to look at several performance measures before they can issue credit to a company. Low or negative retained earnings indicate that the company may have problems repaying its debt. This may result in the creditors choosing not to provide credit to these businesses or charge them a higher interest rate to compensate for the risk.

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The retention ratio is the opposite of the dividend payout ratio, which looks at the percentage of earnings paid to shareholders. You can find the dividend payout ratio by subtracting the retention ratio in decimal form from one. Companies focused on growth usually don’t pay dividends because their goal is to use profits to generate more income.

Defining the Financial Statement

Financial accounting seeks to directly report information for the topics noted in blue. Additional supplemental disclosures frequently provide insight about subjects such as those noted in red. And, additional information is available by reviewing corporate websites , filings with securities regulators, financial journals and magazines, and other similar sources. Most companies will have annual meetings for shareholders and host webcasts every three months . These events are very valuable in allowing investors and creditors to make informed decisions about the company, as well as providing a forum for direct questioning of management. From this data, you can calculate the retention ratio by dividing the retained earnings by the net income. The payout ratio is calculated by dividing the dividends paid by the net income.

  • Analysts can look at the retained earnings statement to understand how a company intends to deploy its profits for growth.
  • The statement breaks down changes in the owners’ interest in the organization and in the application of retained profit or surplus from one accounting period to the next.
  • To determine the net profit margin, you would divide net income by revenue.
  • The statement is a financial document that includes information regarding a firm’s retained earnings, along with the net income and amounts distributed to stockholders in the form of dividends.
  • For these firms, borrowing is not necessary because, in reality, they pay dividends from the firm’s net cash inflows for the period, and these can be greater than Net income.

The statement of retained earnings is generally more condensed than other financial statements. The statement is most commonly used when issuing financial statements to entities outside of a business, such as investors and lenders. When financial statements are developed strictly for internal use, this statement is usually not included, on the grounds that it is not needed from an operational perspective. The RE balance may not always be a positive number, as it may reflect that the current period’s net loss is greater than that of the RE beginning balance. Alternatively, a large distribution of dividends that exceed the retained earnings balance can cause it to go negative. Horizontal analysis is used in financial statement analysis to compare historical data, such as ratios or line items, over a number of accounting periods.

Overview: What is a statement of retained earnings?

Learn the best ways to calculate, report, and explain NPV, ROI, IRR, Working Capital, Gross Margin, EPS, and 150+ more cash flow metrics and business ratios. CollectEarly™ is a loan program managed by FINSYNC Servicing, LLC for business credit extended by participating lenders to borrowers for the purpose of cash advances on outstanding payment requests or invoices. FINSYNC Servicing, LLC services the cash advances on invoices, which are short-term loans, by collecting on future payments as a payments network operator on behalf of participating borrowers and lenders. This information is also essential when the company applies for a loan, begins fundraising or negotiating with investors. This statement shows the creditor that the company is prosperous enough to have money to repay the loan. These earnings can be used to fund future growth opportunities like new marketing initiatives like social media, state-of-the-art equipment, or investing within new target markets.

Between 1995 and 2012, Apple didn’t pay any dividends to its investors, and its retention ratio was 100%. But it still keeps a good portion of its earnings to reinvest back into product development. The company typically maintains a retention ratio in the 70-75% range.

Accounting Topics

The last line on the statement sums the total of these adjustments and lists the ending retained earnings balance. The first entry on the statement is the previous year’s carried-over balance. This entry can be taken from the previous year’s balance sheet or the ending balance of the previous year’s retained earnings.

Each statement covers a specified period of time, usually a year, as noted in the statement. This statement of retained earnings can appear as a separate statement or as an inclusion on either a balance sheet or an income statement. The statement is a financial document that includes information regarding a firm’s retained earnings, along with the net income and amounts distributed to stockholders in the form of dividends. An organization’s net income is noted, showing the amount that will be set aside to handle certain obligations outside of shareholder dividend payments, as well as any amount directed to cover any losses. Each statement covers a specified time period, as noted in the statement. Retained earnings shows the company’s accumulated earnings less dividends paid.

The purpose of the statement is to see how a company is distributing their profit. It can be invested to expand the existing business operations, like increasing the production capacity of the existing products or hiring more sales representatives. Harold Averkamp has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. He is the sole author of all the materials on Get instant visibility into every dollar you spend and be better prepared for your next funding opportunity. Catch abnormalities and keep your teams accountable with Divvy’s reporting tools. For those businesses are just getting started and have less history. are part of the net income retained by the company after dividend payment to the shareholders. Retained earnings are also called ‘retained surplus’ or ‘accumulated earnings. NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty.

How Do Profits Serve as the Source of Retained Earnings?

It shows the amount that is retained from profits after paying shareholders their dividends over a specified period of time. Retained earnings are added to a company’s balance sheet, increasing stockholder equity, and therefore increasing stock value.


The statement is intended to show how a business will use these profits for future growth. In other words, assume a company makes money for the year and only distributes half of the profits to its shareholders as a distribution. The other half of the profits are considered retained earnings because this is the amount of earnings the company kept or retained. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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