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What is a Variable Cost?

When budgeting for companies, some expenses are fixed overhead and some are variable, which depend on the amount of work being done. The direct cost of materials and labor are a good example of variable costs that will fluctuate with production levels. There may be an equation that the company can use to reliably predict these variable costs, but they are not fixed costs. From an accounting perspective, of course, these costs would be in separate sections. Fixed costs include warehousing, depreciation, insurances, rent, taxes, salaries, and so forth. These can be put into the budget before anything else happens or any orders have been taken for the year. The variable costs must be taken into account on the fly. Continue reading...

What are market cycles?

Markets are said to experience cycles of various length and magnitude. Cycles tend to be defined in retrospect and it is not always evident what part of a cycle the market is in. Cycles can be of various length and magnitude, with current cycles existing as minor subtexts of the larger cycles. In Elliott Wave Theory, for instance, cycles of various levels exist simultaneously, with the longer cycles exhibiting “self-similar” patterns to the shorter-term cycles, as in naturally occurring fractals in nature (since Elliott’s theory is that the market is a natural phenomenon, just like the breeding cycles of rabbits). Continue reading...

What is a Billing Cycle?

A billing cycle is the frequency with which a company creates and sends invoices for the goods or services rendered during a time period. A billing cycle is usually a month long, and may begin at the first day of the month and end on the last day. This varies depending on the structure of the business and the systems they have in place to regulate their cash cycle. A bill or invoice will be sent out to customers or debtors from whom the business can expect payment for goods or services rendered during a specific time period. Continue reading...

What are Current Assets?

Current Assets are items on a balance sheet that are either cash or are going to be cash in the near future. The current assets section of a balance sheet is an indication of cash flows and liquidity. The assets are usually listed in order of liquidity, or the amount of time that it will take for them to become cash. This section includes cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, inventory, supplies, and temporary investments. (The order given here is not necessarily the order of liquidity found on a balance sheet.) Continue reading...

What is a Cash Conversion Cycle?

A business with a fast ‘cash conversion cycle’ can efficiently use funds and resources to fulfill the different needs of the business and to generate more business. In the simplest terms, the ‘cash conversion cycle’ is an accounting and efficiency model which measures how fast a retailer can disburse cash to suppliers and then receive cash from customers. To be more descriptive, the business would use cash from Receivables, to get Inventory (and cover Payables), sell that Inventory, and Receive cash again. Continue reading...

What is Operating Income?

Operating income is essentially another term for EBIT, or earnings before interest and taxes. It is a company’s profits (revenue - COGS) minus operating expenses and depreciation. Operating income is different from net income in that it does not account for expenses such as taxes, interest from debt payments, or outside business activities. It offers a pure look at how a company effectively generates cash from internal operations. Continue reading...

What is Operating Leverage?

Operating leverage is a measure of how critical each sale of a company is to overall cash flow. If a company has high operating leverage, it means that it relies on fewer sales with very high gross margins, versus a company with low operating leverage that experiences higher levels of sales with lower gross margins. As an example, a convenient store has less operating leverage than a business that sells yachts. Continue reading...

What is an Operating Profit?

Operating profit is a company’s profit from its business operations, and can be calculated by taking gross profits minus operating expenses. Operating profit is synonymous to operating income, and represents a company’s profitability from its core operations, which excludes earnings from other investments or interests and also does not factor the impact of taxes or interest. Continue reading...

What is an Operating Expense?

Operating expenses are the costs a company incurs as a part of everyday business operations. The goal of most every management team is to figure out how a company can minimize operating expenses while maximizing production and profitability. Operating expenses can involve buying inventory, the cost of running machines, rent, payroll, and so on. What it costs a company to undergo normal business operations and output. It is sometimes referred to as OPEX. Continue reading...

What is the Elliott Wave Theory?

Elliot Wave Theory incorporates the natural cycles of nature and waves with market movements in an attempt to explain and predict the historical and future prices of stocks. Penned by Ralph Elliott in the early 20th century, the Elliott Wave Theory attempts to organize the seemingly random behavior of the market into cycles. The theory visualizes a series of waves cycles, each representing a different length of time or magnitude of a trend or cycle. Continue reading...

What is Income from Operations?

Income from operations will be the net income which is solely focused on revenue from operations minus the cost of operations. It excludes gains or losses from minority interest investments, or sale of assets. Income from Operations is also called Net Operating Income (NOI). In accounting terms it is arrived at by subtracting operating expense from gross profit, where gross profit is net sales minus cost of goods sold. Continue reading...

What is Operating Margin?

Operating margin is a ratio (expressed as a percentage) that indicates how much a company makes for each dollar of sales. It can be calculated by dividing a company’s operating income by net sales, and generally a company that has a high and consistently improving operating margin is thought to be healthy. Operating margin can be looked at in terms of the overall company, or in a more focused vacuum - such as analyzing the operating margin of a new clothing line or an experimental sales project. Continue reading...

What is Net Operating Income?

Net Operating Income (NOI) is a measure of profitability most often used with income producing real estate businesses. In the real estate world, net operating income is calculated by taking all revenues generated by a property (rent, parking, etc…) from all of the operating expenses needed to upkeep the property, which can include insurances, taxes, maintenance, utilities, and so on. Net Operating Income is a before tax figure, so does not include principal and interest payments on loans, depreciation and amortization. If the NOI figure is negative, it is referred to as a net operating loss (NOL). Continue reading...

What is Net Operating Profit After Tax?

Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) is a way to measure profits that excludes the impact of debt financing (via tax benefits and costs). The easiest way to think about Net Operating Profit After Tax is as a company’s profit if it were unleveraged, i.e., if it had no debt. There are costs associated with debt but also tax benefits, so there’s some give and take. The reason an analyst might use NOPAT is to gain a more accurate look at the operating efficiency of a leveraged companies, since it excludes the tax savings many companies get because of existing debt. Continue reading...

What is Operating Cash Flow (OCF)?

Operating cash flow is the amount of cash a company is able to generate from its operations - i.e., how much real cash flow is being generated after accounting for expenses. It is calculated by adjusting net income for items like depreciation and changes in inventory. A company’s OCF is an important metric in determining whether it can generate cash flow without requiring external financing. The timeliness and frequency of cash flows is important as well, in that a company ideally produces consistent and favorable OCF. Continue reading...

What is the Operating Cash Flow Ratio?

The operating cash flow ratio, or OCF ratio, is used to measure whether a company’s cash flows are sufficient to cover current liabilities. It essentially measures how many times a company can use cash flow from operations to cover debt expenses. It can be measured by dividing a company’s cash flow from operations by its current liabilities. Companies with high (relative to their peers or other companies in the sector OCF ratios are generally in good financial health, meaning they can adequately cover ongoing liabilities with cash flow from operations. Continue reading...

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The pseudonymous inventor(s) of bitcoin and blockchain technology, Satoshi Nakamoto, likely walks among us today. Satoshi Nakamoto was the pen-name of the author(s) who anonymously gave the world the design and code for bitcoin and blockchain technology. Penning a white-paper entitled “Bitcoin: a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” the author(s) described the need for a decentralized digital currency and proposed blockchain technology as the way to validate digital transactions with a distributed ledger. Continue reading...

What is fourier analysis?

Fourier Analysis is a mathematical method of identifying and describing harmonic patterns in complex oscillating environments, and is used in options pricing among other things. Fourier Analysis is used to compute the probability that results will be within a certain range. Fourier analysis also has many other applications in physics, engineering, and music, for instance, because it can create a system for identifying patterns and simplifying computations for complex systems which feature oscillations and waves which have frequencies. Continue reading...

What does open interest mean?

Open interest is a measurement of the outstanding open positions in a derivative security. Strong open interest means the derivative will have high liquidity. Open Interest is not the same thing as Trading Volume, but it does give an indication of liquidity and activity in a derivative. Open Interest is the number of open positions for a derivative, like an option. The Options Clearing Corporation tallies up the ‘open interest’ numbers, but they are not posted until the morning following the count. Open Interest isn't necessarily indicative of a bullish or bearish forecast for the underlying security, but it does generally mean that the option will have high liquidity and that a seller will be able to find a buyer. Continue reading...

What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is the liquid flow of cash and cash equivalents into and out of a business. Cash flow is an accounting metric that keeps track of the liquid assets going into and out of a business, project, or fund. Cash flow does not include accounts receivable, necessarily, because those funds may not be in-hand at the present time. The cash conversion cycle (CCC) and some valuation calculations will use cash flow numbers. Accounts may demonstrate positive or negative cash flow, which is either adding to or decreasing total assets. Continue reading...