PROFIT AND LOSS: Meaning, Examples & Difference

Profit and Loss
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Being a business owner entails making difficult decisions. Should you sell your company now? Is it a smart idea to merge with another company? Is it time to seek investors, or should you continue to self-fund? These are usually for founders to encounter, but in order to choose the best approach, you must first determine whether your company is financially stable. This is achievable thanks to a document known as a profit and loss statement. This guide will teach you all you need to know about profit and loss, including the statement, an example, the account, and a clear comparison of income statement vs profit and loss. Let’s get started.

What Is a Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement?

Revenue and spending information is summarized in the profit and loss statements. Depending on a company’s normal operating procedure, these statements are generated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.

A P&L report’s basic formula is as follows:

“Net Profit Formula”

How Profit and Loss (P&L) Statements Work?

The P&L statement, together with the balance sheet and cash flow statement, is one of three financial statements that every public business releases on a quarterly and annual basis. It is frequently the most popular and common financial statement in a business plan because it displays how much P&L a company produced.

P&L statements are also known as a(n):

  • Statement of P&L
  • Statement of operations
  • Statement of financial results or income
  • Earnings statement
  • Expense statement
  • Income statement

The profit and loss or income statement, like the cash flow statement, illustrates changes in the account over a specific time period. The balance sheet, on the other hand, is a snapshot of the company’s assets and liabilities at a single point in time. The income statement and cash flow statement must be compared because, under the accrual system of accounting, a corporation can register revenues and expenses before cash changes hands.

This document takes the general format shown in the sample below. It starts with a revenue entry, known as the top line, and subtracts the costs of running company, which include the cost of products sold, operational expenses, tax charges, and interest expenses. The difference, referred to as the bottom line, is net income, also known as profit or earnings.

Why is it Necessary to Prepare a Profit and Loss Statement?

P&L statements are vital because they help measure a company’s success, allowing leaders to make better decisions. With a P&L statement in hand, management can assess which operations are profitable and which are losing money and then act appropriately.

Whether you are looking for a small company loan or seeking capital from investors, you will also need to provide a P&L statement. Lenders and investors will compare your net revenue and operating income to your expenses, debts, and taxes to determine whether your business is viable and worthy of financial help.

P&L statements are also needed by law or by association membership in many cases, making them vital documents to generate on a regular basis to guarantee regulatory compliance.

Types of Profit and Loss (P&L) Statements

As previously stated, a P&L statement can be made in one of two methods. There are two of them: the cash approach and the accrual technique.

#1. Cash method

The cash technique, often known as the cash accounting method, is only employed when cash enters and exits the business. This is a straightforward system that merely accounts for money received or paid. When cash is received, a firm records the transaction as revenue, and when cash is used to pay bills or liabilities, the transaction is recorded as a liability. This strategy is often utilized by small businesses and individuals who want to manage their own money.

#2. Accrual method

Revenue is recorded using the accrual accounting method as it is earned. This indicates that an accrual method company accounts for money that it anticipates receiving in the future. For example, a company that delivers a product or service to a customer enters the revenue on its profit and loss statement even though it hasn’t yet received payment. Similarly, liabilities are accounted for even when no expenses have been paid.

Key Components of a Profit and Loss Report

A profit and loss statement will range from one business to the next, based on the sort of business and its complexity, for example, if you sell items rather than services, have several sources of income, or have a large number of expenses. Nonetheless, below are some common income statement components.

#1. Revenues

This entry represents the accounting period’s net sales or receipts. It covers revenue produced from the entity’s principal business activity as well as non-operating revenue.

#2. Price of Items Sold

The direct expenses incurred to manufacture items or deliver services to clients, including direct labor and materials, are referred to as the cost of goods sold, or COGS.

#3. Gross Profit

Gross profit, often known as gross income or gross margin, is defined as net revenue less cost of goods sold.

#4. Operational Costs

Operational expenses are administrative, general, and selling costs associated with running a business for a set period of time. This covers rent, payroll, utilities, office supplies, and any other indirect expenditures associated with running a business. Non-cash expenses such as depreciation are also included.

#5. Operating Income

Earnings before taxes, depreciation, interest, and authorization are referred to as operating income. To determine operating income, subtract operating expenses from gross profit.

#6. Other Income and Expenses

While it is not essential, many businesses split certain revenues and expenses in their profit and loss statements. This area typically contains income and expenses that are not related to normal activities, such as gains or losses from the sale of the company’s assets, interest and dividend income from investments, and other exceptional or uncommon revenues and expenses.

#7. Net Profit

The total amount earned after deducting all expenses is referred to as net profit. Subtract your total expenses from your gross earnings to calculate net profit.

Example of a Profit and Loss Statement

An example of a profit and loss statement begins with a header that includes the name of your company and the accounting period.

After that comes:

  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Net Profit

Income Statement vs Profit and Loss

P&L is an abbreviation for profit and loss statements. A profit and loss statement for a business indicates how much money your company made and lost over a specific time period.

There is no distinction between an income statement vs a profit and loss statement. A profit and loss statement is another name for an income statement. The income statement is also known as the income statement or the statement of operations.

Now that we’ve clarified the difference between an income statement vs a profit and loss statement, we can discuss the significance of this statement and how it differs from the other financial statements. Because profit and loss vs income statement are the same things, the terms can be used interchangeably.

Who Creates a Profit and Loss Statement?

Most business owners engage a bookkeeper or an accountant to generate a profit and loss statement, which is recommended because professionals have the skills to guarantee everything is prepared correctly. It is absolutely appropriate to engage an outside professional to generate a P&L statement for your business if you are more focused on other elements of your organization.

Although a profit and loss statement is one of the more complicated bookkeeping operations in a firm, you can perform it yourself with some knowledge and practice. There is also a variety of tools available to assist you in completing your P&L statement if you wish to do it alone.

What Can I Learn From My Profit and Loss Statement?

Many small firms create financial statements because a bank requires them or because they must file tax returns. Yet, the profit and loss statement can also be used to assess your company’s financial health.

Here are three critical facts you may glean from your profit and loss report:

#1. Where Your Profits Are Coming From

If you sell many items or services, you can divide them down on your P&L into multiple product or service lines. This can inform you whether some items or services are more profitable than others and whether some are expanding while others are contracting.

#2. Whether You’re Efficiently Handling Costs

A comparative profit and loss statement, which compares your current numbers to those from a previous quarter, can show you whether certain expenses are increasing faster than projected. For example, if revenues increase by 20% over the previous year but office supplies expenses increase by 75%, you should investigate why.

#3. Whether Your Business Operations Are Profitable

Your company may have a lot of money in the bank from loans and investors, but are you making a profit? Your profit and loss statement’s bottom line will inform you if your company’s financial performance is positive or negative.

While a profit and loss statement is important on its own, studying it in conjunction with your balance sheet and cash flow statement can provide greater insight into your company’s financial status.

Beyond the Profit and Loss Statement

To acquire a whole picture of a company’s financial health, analysts must look beyond the profit and loss statement. To fully evaluate a company, the balance sheet and cash flow statement must be examined.

#1. Analyzing the Balance Sheet

The balance sheet summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a given point in time. This snapshot of the company’s financial status is useful for determining:

  • The company’s asset base – the ability to generate future revenues
  • Liabilities – future obligations the company has to meet
  • Working capital – the company’s short-term liquidity position
  • Capital structure – how a company is financed between debt and equity

#2. Analyzing the Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement illustrates how much cash a company made and consumed over time. It is divided into three parts: cash from operations, cash from investing, and cash from borrowing. This statement is critical for evaluating:

  • The company’s ability to generate cash from operations
  • Free Cash Flow generation
  • How much money has been raised (debt and or equity)
  • The net change in cash position over the period
  • The start and end of period cash balance

How to Analyze a Profit and Loss Statement (P&L)

One of the primary responsibilities of a professional financial analyst is to assess a company’s profit and loss statement in order to provide suggestions regarding the company’s financial soundness, and the attractiveness of investing in it or acquiring the entire organization.

Some of the profit and loss statement analysis example include:

  • Comparing year-over-year numbers (horizontal analysis) as well as industry benchmarking
  • Looking at margins: gross profit margin, EBITDA margin, operating margin, net profit margin
  • Trend analysis: are metrics improving or deteriorating
  • Rates of return: return on equity (ROE), return on assets (ROA)
  • Valuation metrics: EV/EBITDA, P/E ratio, Price to Book, etc

How do you Calculate Profit vs Loss?

The profit or gain is equal to the difference between the selling price and the cost price. The loss is the cost price less the selling price.

What are the 3 Steps to Calculating Profit & Loss?

To compute the accounting profit or loss, do the following:

  • Add together all of your monthly earnings.
  • Add up all of your monthly expenses.
  • remove total expenses from total revenue to compute the difference

What is the Formula of Profit Gain?

The profit or gain is equal to the difference between the selling price and the cost price.

What is Another Name for Profit and Loss?

Profit and loss statements are also known as income statements, earnings statements, revenue statements, operating statements, statements of operations, and statements of financial performance.

What are the Types of Profit and Loss?

Revenue is one of the most important categories on the P&L. (or Sales) Price of Items Sold (or Cost of Sales) Selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A).


A profit and loss statement describes a company’s revenues, expenditures, and expenses over a specified time period. It is one of three financial statements issued quarterly and annually by public corporations, the other two being a balance sheet and a cash flow statement. Financial statements are used by investors and analysts to assess a company’s financial health and growth potential.


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