EBITDA vs Cash Flow: Profitability and Efficiency Explained

EBITDA became popular in the 1980s with the rise of the leveraged buyout industry. Looking at FCF is also helpful for potential shareholders or lenders who want to evaluate how likely it is that the company will be able to pay its expected dividends or interest. If the company’s debt payments are deducted from free cash flow to the firm (FCFF), a lender would have a better idea of the quality of cash flows available for paying additional debt. Shareholders can use FCF minus interest payments to predict the stability of future dividend payments. The EBITDA of our company can be determined by adding the D&A expense – which we’ll assume to have pulled from the cash flow statement (CFS) – to EBIT from the income statement. In the calculation of EBIT, revenue is adjusted by cost of goods sold (COGS) and operating expenses, which is inclusive of the depreciation and amortization expense since D&A is embedded within COGS and Opex.

  1. Free cash flow (FCF) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) are two different ways of looking at the earnings a business generates.
  2. Including working capital in a measure of profitability provides an insight that is missing from the income statement.
  3. There’s really no way to know for sure unless you ask them to specify exactly which types of CF they are referring to.
  4. Hopefully, the next time you come across either term, they won’t be confusing.

Grant Company provides a good illustration of the importance of cash generation over EBITDA. Grant was a general retailer in the time before commercial malls and ebitda vs cash flow a blue-chip stock of its day. So comparing the ratio of a firm with the industry or its peers will give a better estimation of the company’s liquidity position.

Why EBITDA and cash flow differ

CFO is calculated on the cash flow statements by adding non-cash expenses like depreciation & amortization. Other expenses and adjustments are made for working capital and other short-term line items to the net income. Also, EBITDA doesn’t take into account capital expenditures, which are a source of cash outflow for a business. Free Cash Flow to Equity can also be referred to as “Levered Free Cash Flow”. This measure is derived from the statement of cash flows by taking operating cash flow, deducting capital expenditures, and adding net debt issued (or subtracting net debt repayment).

Like EBIT, EBITDA is capital structure independent and not affected by taxes. The treatment of D&A as a non-cash charge, however, is what causes the difference between our hypothetical company’s EBIT and EBITDA ($40 million vs. $50 million). https://adprun.net/ Because EBIT and EBITDA are each independent of discretionary capital structure decisions (i.e. the financing mix) and pre-tax measures of profitability, they can be used for comparability purposes between different companies.

The purpose of this calculation is to provide a more complete picture of a company’s value by including cash levels, debt, and stock price related to the business’s operating profitability. EBITDA measures earnings without the impact of interest, taxes, debt costs, and the non-cash items depreciation and amortization. EBITDA will add back four expense categories to the net income calculation. If a business generates a profit, net income will be less than the EBITDA balance because net income includes more expenses.


EBIT and EBITDA both measure the core operating profitability of companies, however, there are several notable distinctions. EBITDA is widely used in the analysis of asset-intensive industries with a lot of property, plant, and equipment and correspondingly high non-cash depreciation costs. In those sectors, the costs that EBITDA excludes may obscure changes in the underlying profitability—for example, as with energy pipelines. In some cases, the calculation can be misleading because it ignores debt, and a company that has built up debt to finance its operations might look healthier than it truly is. Companies may also choose to highlight this figure when reporting earnings to investors.

The downside is that it requires analysis and assumptions to be made about what the firm’s unlevered tax bill would be. EBITDA is good because it’s easy to calculate and heavily quoted so most people in finance know what you mean when you say EBITDA. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers.

This evolved into the more recent practice of using EBITDA to evaluate unprofitable dotcoms as well as firms such as telecoms, where technology upgrades are a constant expense. If fraudulent accounting techniques are used to inflate revenues while interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are taken out of the equation, almost any company could look great. Of course, when the truth comes out about the sales figures, the house of cards will tumble, and investors will be in trouble. Free cash flow to the firm (FCFF) or unleveled free cash flow is the sum of the cash flows to all claim holders in the firm, including shareholders, bonds & preferred stockholders.


In Q4 2023, I expect VTOL’s revenues to increase based on the momentum in project FIDs (final investment decision). According to the estimates shown in the company’s Q3 earnings presentation, 44 FID projects were due to be added in the final leg of 2023, on top of 92 FIDs already initiated during the year. Industrial costs / research and development expenses increased (Euro 166 million), mainly due to higher depreciation and amortization, cost inflation and higher Formula 1 expenses.

There’s really no way to know for sure unless you ask them to specify exactly which types of CF they are referring to. CFI has published several articles on the most heavily referenced finance metric, ranging from what is EBITDA to the reasons Why Warren Buffett doesn’t like EBITDA. EBITDA is often used as a proxy for cash flow, but many practitioners struggle to grasp the true meaning of EBITDA fully.

With a 20% tax rate, net income equals $20 million after $5 million in taxes is subtracted from pretax income. If depreciation, amortization, interest, and taxes are added back to net income, EBITDA equals $40 million. This calculation indicates the profitability of a company’s core operations, and can be calculated using basic information from the company’s income and cash flow statements. Those who use the EBITDA formula prefer to analyze a company’s performance based on day-to-day business operations. They disregard debt (interest costs), taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

How is EBITDA calculated?

This would mean that while both turned the same profit, their cash flow statements will look different (the business with the debt repayment obligation will show $3,000 less in positive cash flow). A company’s income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet all provide the information you need to calculate EBITDA. When it comes to analyzing the performance of a company on its own merits, some analysts see free cash flow as a better metric than EBITDA. This is because it provides a better idea of the level of earnings that is really available to a firm after it covers its interest, taxes, and other commitments. Free Cash Flow can be easily derived from the statement of cash flows by taking operating cash flow and deducting capital expenditures. While FCF is a useful tool, it is not subject to the same financial disclosure requirements as other line items in the financial statements.

Everything You Need To Master Financial Modeling

It is better to calculate cash flow separately and not equate it with EBITDA if you want to get the most accurate picture of a company. The question “What is the difference between EBITDA and free cash flow?” comes up frequently, because both figures show the earning power of a company. We would like to explain why EBITDA and free cash flow are not the same and why they can differ greatly from each other. We’ve reduced this acronym down to “NOI minus depreciation and amortization expense” or “NOIDA” (we love our acronyms). The $65 billion can now be used to repay debt holders, share repurchases, dividends, and other investments.

Since EBITDA is a non-GAAP measure, there is no standardized, consistent set of rules dictating the specific items that belong in the formula. This is the case, for example, if customers pay their invoices very late (a high value for days sales outstanding), or if a lot of capital is tied up in inventory. The higher this value, the more efficiently the company converts its EBITDA into cash. If this value is very low, it can be an indication that the working capital is not working efficiently enough in the company. Net borrowing is also referred to as net debt and can be found on the balance sheet under “Cash from investing”. This set of numbers could be easily entered into a spreadsheet and some kind of valuation equation derived.