Balance sheets

The relationship between balance sheets and profit and loss accounts


The profit and loss (P&L) account summarises a business' trading transactions - income, sales and expenditure - and the resulting profit or loss for a given period.

The balance sheet, by comparison, provides a financial snapshot at a given moment. It doesn't show day-to-day transactions or the current profitability of the business. However, many of its figures relate to - or are affected by - the state of play with profit and loss transactions on a given date.

Any profits not paid out as dividends are shown in the retained profit column on the balance sheet.

The amount shown as cash or at the bank under current assets on the balance sheet will be determined in part by the income and expenses recorded in the P&L. For example, if sales income exceeds spending in the period preceding publication of the accounts, all other things being equal, current assets will be higher than if expenses had outstripped income over the same period.

If the business takes out a short-term loan, this will be shown in the balance sheet under current liabilities, but the loan itself won't appear in the P&L. However, the P&L will include interest payments on that loan in its expenditure column - and these figures will affect the net profitability figure or 'bottom line'.

For further information on profit and loss accounts and balance sheets, see: 

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