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Profit and Loss Statement (P&L)


A Profit and Loss Statement (P&L), also known as an income statement, is a financial report that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specific period of time, typically a fiscal quarter or year. It shows a company’s ability to generate sales, manage expenses, and create profits. It is called a P&L because it clearly outlines the profit or loss of a business for the given period.


Profit and Loss Statement: /ˈprɒfɪt ænd lɔːs ˈsteɪtmənt/P&L: /ˌpiː ænd ˈɛl/

Key Takeaways

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  1. The Profit and Loss Statement offers a summary of a company’s revenues, costs, and expenses over a specific period of time. It provides a clear picture of a company’s ability to generate profit by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or both.
  2. Also referred to as the income statement, statement of earnings, and the statement of operation, it is one of the three main financial statements used by businesses for financial analysis, the other two being Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement.
  3. The P&L statement is valuable to potential investors and creditors, who will use this information to create forecasts of a company’s potential for future growth and to help assess the risk of lending to the company.

“`This means that the Profit and Loss Statement is highly important for both the internal and external analysis of a company’s financial status and business performance.


The Profit and Loss Statement, commonly referred to as the P&L, is an essential financial tool for businesses as it provides a detailed summary of a company’s revenue, costs, and expenses over a specific period of time (usually quarterly or annually). It allows stakeholders to understand the company’s operational performance by showcasing its ability to generate profit by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or both. This statement is vital as it gives valuable insight into whether a business is viable, profitable, and capable of funding its growth. The P&L statement is also used by external entities such as investors, creditors, or potential buyers to assess the company’s financial health and make vital business decisions. Hence, the P&L statement plays a crucial role in strategic planning and shaping the future direction of a company.


The purpose of a Profit and Loss Statement (P&L), also known as an income statement, is to provide a comprehensive summary of a company’s revenues, costs, and expenses during a specific period of time. This financial document fundamentally indicates the profitability of the business, detailing whether it has made a profit (income exceeds expenses) or incurred a loss (expenses exceed income). It offers critical information required by stakeholders like investors, creditors, and management to make informed decisions. The P&L statement is essential not just for regulatory requirements but also as a strategic tool for internal business planning. By delineating revenue and expenses into different categories, management can determine which areas are positively contributing to the firm’s profitability and where inefficiencies or excesses may exist. A P&L statement can spotlight trends in business over time, guide in budget planning, and aid in making forecasts. For investors and creditors, it forms the basis for assessing business performance, financial health, and likelihood of return on investments. Overall, it is a valuable financial statement that presents a snapshot of a firm’s economic viability.


1. Walmart Inc: As a publicly-traded company, Walmart is required by law to publish its financial statements, including Profit and Loss Statements. In these statements, the retail giant outlines their revenues, cost of goods sold, total expenses, profit earned from their operations, interest, taxes, and net profit. By analyzing these elements, investors can assess the company’s profitability and make informed investment decisions.2. IBM (International Business Machines Corporation): IBM’s P&L statement helps shareholders, potential investors, and competitors understand its revenue model. The tech giant’s P&L statements demonstrate its sales revenue, cost of goods sold including employee’s payroll, R&D costs, hence, the gross profit. The Operating expenses are also disclosed as Selling, General, and Administrative expenses (SG&A). The last lines demonstrate profit or loss before tax, income tax expenses and the final net income.3. Starbucks Corporation: Starbucks’ P&L Statements offer vital clues about their performance. These include revenue generated through selling beverages and food items, the cost of making those products, and the gross profit. It further includes operating expenses like rent for the store locations, employee wages, marketing costs, etc. The income from operations, interest payable, and taxes are also detailed. Lastly, Starbucks outlines its net profit or loss for the period. Investors can use this information to understand Starbucks’ revenue growth, cost management, profitability, and overall financial well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

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

A P&L statement, also known as an Income Statement, is a financial report that provides a summary of a company’s revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specific period of time. This shows a business’s profits or losses.

Why is a Profit and Loss Statement important?

P & L Statements are important because they provide key information about whether a company’s operation is profitable or not. Investors, creditors, and management utilising these statements to make crucial financial decisions.

What is included in a P&L Statement?

A P&L Statement typically includes sales revenue or gross income, cost of goods sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, interest, taxes, net profit or loss, and earnings per share (EPS).

How often is a P&L statement generated?

P&L Statements are commonly generated on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. However, the frequency can vary depending on the company’s reporting requirements.

Who uses the Profit and Loss Statement?

P&L statements are used by numerous individuals. This includes company executives, board members, shareholders, potential investors, and financial analysts. They use it to understand the financial health of the company and to make informed decisions.

How does the P&L statement differ from a Balance Sheet?

While a balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company at a particular point in time, the P&L Statement shows revenues and expenses over a specific period of time.

What are the benefits of a P&L statement to a small business owner?

For a small business owner, a P&L statement can help to manage the business more efficiently by enabling insights into what areas of their business are profitable or are incurring losses, aid in budgeting and forecasting, and help to control expenses.

Can a profitable company have a negative cash flow?

Yes, it is possible. If a company’s non-cash expenses are high or if its working capital and investment activities are significant, it may report a net income on the P&L while simultaneously experiencing negative cash flow.

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