Wall Street Prep

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L)

Guide to Understanding the Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) Statement

Learn Online Now

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L)

Profit and Loss Statement Format

The term profit and loss statement, or “P&L”, is interchangeable with the income statement, one of the three core financial statements that all publicly traded companies are obligated to file with the SEC.

For public companies listed in the U.S., the 10-Q profit and loss statement (P&L) must be filed each quarter, with a 10-K annual filing due for the 4th quarter.

  • 10-Q → 3x Per Year (and 4th is 10-K)
  • 10-K → 1x Per Year

Together, alongside the cash flow statement and balance sheet, the P&L statement provides a detailed depiction of the financial state of a company.

In particular, the P&L statement shows the operating performance of the company as well as the costs and expenses that impact its profit margins.

Upon assessing a company’s P&L statement, one can gauge the company’s ability to:

The standard profit and loss (P&L) statement will consist of the following line items:

Profit and Loss Statement Line Items
Revenue
  • Sales Generated from Selling Products/Services from Customers
Less: Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
  • Costs Directly Associated with Core Revenue Production
Gross Profit
  • Gross Profit = Revenue – COGS
Less: Operating Expenses (SG&A)
  • Indirect Costs NOT Directly Related to Revenue Creation
Operating Income (EBIT)
  • EBIT = Gross Profit – Operating Expenses
Less: Interest Expense
  • Periodic Payments on Debt Obligation (i.e. the Cost of Debt Financing)
Pre-Tax Income (EBT)
  • EBT = EBIT – Interest Expense
Less: Taxes
  • Legally Mandatory Payments to the City, State, and Federal Government
Net Income (“Bottom Line”)
  • Net Income = EBT – Taxes

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) in Accounting Method

The profit and loss statements (P&L) can be prepared by an accountant under two methods:

P&L Structure — Accrual Accounting

  • Under the revenue recognition principle, revenue is recognized when “earned” under GAAP standards (i.e. product or service delivered to the customer regardless of whether cash payment was received)
  • Expenses are matched in the same period as the corresponding revenue they helped create, which is called the matching principle.
  • P&L statements filed under accrual accounting are required under U.S. GAAP standards.

P&L Structure — Cash-Basis Accounting

  • Under cash accounting, revenue is not recognized until the customer pays in cash to the company for the products/services received
  • Expenses under cash accounting, similar to revenue, are not recognized until the cash outflow occurs – meaning that the company has actually paid the third party in cash.
  • P&Ls prepared under cash-basis accounting are more common for private companies.

P&L Statement for Private Companies

Note that for many private companies, revenue is recorded as “income” and the expenses are often combined together in a single section, rather than distinguishing between:

The lack of standardization for private companies makes adjusting the financials often a necessary step to properly evaluate the actual financial performance of the company.

For instance, in the context of an acquisition where the acquirer follows accrual accounting, adjustments to a target company’s financial statements would be necessary if it follows cash accounting.

Profit and Loss Statement Calculator — Excel Template

We’ll now move to a modeling exercise, which you can access by filling out the form below.

dl
Submitting ...

Simple Profit and Loss Statement Example

Suppose we’re creating a simple profit and loss statement for a company with the following financial data.

  • Revenue = $100 million
  • COGS = $40 million
  • SG&A = $20 million
  • Interest Expense = $5 million
  • Tax Rate = 30%

Given those assumptions, we can enter them into our P&L format, with the following line items being formulas, as opposed to hardcoded inputs.

  • Gross Profit = $100 million – $40 million = $60 million
  • EBIT = $60 million – $20 million = $40 million
  • EBT = $40 million – $5 million = $35 million
  • Net Income = $35 million – ($35 million × 30%) = $25 million

A screenshot of our completed profit and loss statement (P&L) can be found below.

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) Example Template

Step-by-Step Online Course

Everything You Need To Master Financial Modeling

Enroll in The Premium Package: Learn Financial Statement Modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO and Comps. The same training program used at top investment banks.

Enroll Today
Comments
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Learn Financial Modeling Online

Everything you need to master financial and valuation modeling: 3-Statement Modeling, DCF, Comps, M&A and LBO.

Learn More
X

The Wall Street Prep Quicklesson Series

7 Free Financial Modeling Lessons

Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts.