Between the Lines of the Balance Sheet. The Plain Man's by Michael Greener

By Michael Greener

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E. , are due to the fact that both have fallen on lean years and both for obvious reasons wish to keep up dividends. To do so, Newton Chambers has recently had to scrape the barrel of its profits, and the Lancashire Cotton Corpn. has had in the past two years to draw heavily on reserves. To make any assessment of the true dividend policy of both these companies it would be necessary to consider figures over a much longer period. George Wimpey and, to a lesser extent, William Hancock are retaining a large part of their profits.

It is also expensive and has an adverse effect on profits. Long-term borrowing again has the effect of mortgaging future profits; and in any event there must be promise of sufficient future profit to pay the interest and eventually repay the loan; else the last state may be worse than the first. K. from 1974 to 1977, then the fall in the real value of the capital to be repaid may exceed the interest payable over the period of the loan. Secondly, funds can be raised by selling fixed assets. There are two possibilities to be considered.

Except in cases where a business is well on to the rocks any really satisfactory assessment of solvency requires rather more information than is usually given. What is more, inquiries are hampered by the inevitable window dressing practised by so many businesses at the time the balance sheet is produced. Be that as it may, there are certain tests that may in most cases be made. In the first place it is necessary to distinguish between current assets and liquid assets. g. marketable securities and debtors.

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