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Retained Earnings - What is Retained Earnings?, Definition & Advantages

What are retained earnings?

Retained earnings refer to the portion of a company's net income that remains after distributing dividends to shareholders. It is a decision made by a company's management on how much of the earnings will be retained and how much will be paid out to shareholders. Retained earnings offer the advantage of allowing a company to reinvest in itself and grow without the need for additional capital from shareholders or debtors.

Retained earnings can serve various purposes, such as paying down debt to improve the company's financial position and credit rating. They can also be utilized to fund new projects or expansions, enabling a company to increase market share or venture into new markets.

Strong retention rates in a company typically indicate that its management believes in the company's performance and future prospects. Consequently, high retention rates can instill confidence in existing shareholders and attract potential investors.


What is the Retained Earnings Formula?


The formula for retained earnings is given below - 

Retained Earnings = Beginning period retained earnings + Net income/loss - cash dividends - stock dividends.

  • Beginning of the period retained earnings - The retained earnings balance in the previous accounting period becomes the retained earnings beginning balance of the next accounting cycle. The RE balance can be both positive and negative as it may reflect both profit and loss. 

  • Net Income - Any movement in net income will directly impact the RE balance. Net income balance can also be negative in the case of losses. 

  • Dividends - Cash dividends represent cash outflow and are recorded as reductions in the cash account. They reduce the company’s balance sheet and asset value. However, stock dividends do not require cash outflow. It decreases the value of stocks pere share. 


What are the advantages of retained earnings?

Retained earnings offer several advantages to companies. One key advantage is that they provide a source of funding for future growth. These earnings can be used to finance new initiatives, expand current business operations, and make investments that contribute to overall company growth.

Another advantage of retained earnings is their ability to help companies navigate challenging times. During periods of slowdown or unexpected setbacks, companies can tap into retained earnings to cover expenses and maintain operational stability until business conditions improve.

Lastly, retaining earnings can foster shareholder confidence and support. When shareholders witness a company reinvesting in its own future, they are more likely to remain loyal and continue supporting the company.