Headline Earnings

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Definition of 'Headline Earnings'

Headline earnings are the net income of a company before any adjustments are made for non-recurring items. This is the figure that is most commonly reported in the financial press and is used by investors to compare companies' profitability.

However, headline earnings can be misleading because they do not take into account all of the costs that a company incurs. For example, a company may have a large one-time expense that will not be repeated in the future, but this expense will reduce its headline earnings.

Another problem with headline earnings is that they do not reflect the true value of a company. For example, a company may have a large amount of goodwill on its balance sheet, which is the difference between the purchase price of an acquisition and the fair value of its assets. Goodwill is not an expense, but it does reduce a company's net income.

For these reasons, it is important to look beyond headline earnings when evaluating a company. Investors should also consider a company's operating income, which is its net income before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). EBITDA is a better measure of a company's profitability because it takes into account all of the costs that a company incurs in its day-to-day operations.

In addition to operating income, investors should also consider a company's free cash flow, which is the cash that a company generates after paying for its operating expenses and capital expenditures. Free cash flow is a good measure of a company's ability to generate cash and pay dividends to its shareholders.

By looking beyond headline earnings, investors can get a more accurate picture of a company's financial health and its ability to generate cash.

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