Anything owned by the company having a monetary value; e.g. fixed assets like buildings, plant and machinery, vehicles (these are not assets if rented and not owned) and potentially including intangibles like trademarks and brand names, and current assets, such as stock, debtors and cash.

P/E ratio (price per earnings)

The P/E ratio is an important indicator as to how the investing market views the health, performance, prospects and investment risk of a PLC. The P/E ratio is arrived at by dividing the share price by the earnings per share (profit after tax and interest divided by the number of ordinary shares in issue). To calculate the P/E ratio:

  • Find the total profit after tax and interest for the past year
  • Divide this by the number of shares issued
  • This gives you the earnings per share
  • Divide the price of each share by the earnings per share
  • This gives the Price/Earnings or P/E ratio

Profit and loss account (P&L)

The P&L shows how well the company has performed in its trading activities and would cover a trading account for a period.

The P&L shows profit performance and typically shows sales revenues, cost of sales/cost of goods sold, generally a gross profit margin, fixed overheads and/or operating expenses, and then a profit before tax figure (PBT).

Balance sheet

The balance sheet provides a 'snapshot' at a particular date in time of who owns what in the company, and what assets and debts represent the value of the company.

The balance sheet is where to look for information about short-term and long term debts, gearing (the ratio of debt to equity), reserves, stock values (materials and finished goods), capital assets, cash, and the value of shareholders' funds. The balance sheet equation is

Capital + Liabilities (where the money came from) = Assets (where the money is now)


The movement of cash in and out of a business from day-to-day direct trading and other non-trading effects, such as capital expenditure, tax and dividend payments.

Cashflow statement

The Cashflow statement shows the movement and availability of cash through and to the business over a given period and it is fundamental that financial forecasting and reporting of cash movement and availability is accurate. For any business 'cash is king' and essential to meet payments for example to suppliers, staff and other creditors.

Current assets

Cash and anything that is expected to be converted into cash within 12 months of the balance sheet date. For example debtors, stocks.

Current liabilities

Money owed by the business that is generally due for payment within 12 months of balance sheet date. For example: creditors, bank overdraft, taxation.


The proportion of cost relating to a capital item, over an agreed period, (based on the useful life of the asset), for example, a piece of equipment costing £10,000 having a life of five years might be depreciated over five years at a cost of £2,000 per year.

This for example would be shown in the P&L as a depreciation cost of £2,000 per year; the balance sheet would show an asset value of £8,000 at the end of year one, reducing by £2,000 per year; and the cashflow statement would show all £10,000 being used to pay for it in year one.


A dividend is a payment made per share, to a company's shareholders and is based on the profits of the year, but not necessarily all of the profits; Normally a half year dividend is recommended by a company Board whilst the final dividend for the year is proposed by the Board of Directors and shareholders consider this and vote at an Annual General Meeting.

Earnings before

There are several 'Earnings before…..' ratios. The key ones being:

  • PBT
Profit/earnings before taxes
  • EBIT
Earnings before interest and taxes
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation

Earnings relate to operating and non-operating profits e.g. interest, dividends received from other investments. Depreciation and Amortisation are non-cash charges to the balance sheet which is made in writing-off an asset over a period.


The ratio of debt to equity, usually the relationship between long term borrowings and shareholders' funds.


Any surplus money paid to acquire a company that exceeds its net tangible assets value.


Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

Intellectual property (IP)

This is an intangible asset such as a copyright or patent.

Copyright is the exclusive right to produce copies and to control an original work and is granted by law for a specified number of years.

A patent is a government grant to an inventor assuring the inventor the sole right to make, use and sell an invention for a limited period.

Open Ended Investment Companies (OEIC)

Funds managed by institutional investors. These funds can mix different types of investment strategies such as income and growth, and small cap and large cap stocks. There are no bid and ask quotes on the OEIC shares; buyers and sellers receive the same price.

The value of OEIC investment and any income from it is not guaranteed and can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the original amount invested.


The surplus remaining after total costs are deducted from total revenue.

Retained profit

A business profit which is after tax and dividend payments to shareholders; it is often retained by the business and used for reinvestment.

Net profit

The actual profit made during a specific period of business activity, after deducting all costs from gross receipts.


The accumulated and retained difference between profits and losses year on year since the company's formation.

Retained earnings

The earnings of a company which is used for reinvestment, rather than being distributed to shareholders as dividends.

Return on capital employed (ROCE)

A fundamental financial performance measure. A percentage figure representing profit before interest against the money that is invested in the business.

EBIT ÷ Capital employed (net assets + net debt) × 100 = ROCE

Share capital

The balance sheet nominal value paid into the company by shareholders at the time(s) shares were issued.

Shareholders' funds

A measure of the shareholders' total interest in the company represented by the total share capital plus reserves


The name or a symbol used by a manufacturer or dealer to distinguish its products from those of competitors. A Registered trademark is one that is officially registered and legally protected.

Working capital

Current assets less current liabilities, representing the required investment, continually circulating, to finance stock, debtors, and work in progress.