Cash Flow from Investing covers the cash a company gains or spends from investment activities in financial market and operating subsidiaries. It also includes the cash the company used for property, plant and equipment (PPE).
If a company spends cash on property, plant and equipment (PPE), this will reduce their cash position. This is called Capital Expenditures (CPEX).
Likewise, if a company buys another company for cash, this will reduce their cash position.
In the capital spending for property, plant and equipment (PPE), some part of spending may be from the expansion of business. The business needs more property, plant and equipment (PPE) as it grows. Another part may be from replacement of the property, plant and equipment (PPE) of existing business. For some companies, the cash spent on replacing of the property, plant and equipment (PPE) of the existing business will be close to the depreciation of property, plant and equipment (PPE) reported in the income statement.
In Warren Buffetts definition of Owners Earnings, he deducts the estimate of the cost of replacing the property, plant and equipment (PPE) of the existing business from cash flow from operations. The cash spent on the new property, plant, and equipment is not deducted. The reason is because these are not costs of the existing business. In his 1986 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote this about owner earnings:
"These represent (a) reported earnings plus (b) depreciation, depletion, amortization, and certain other non-cash charges...less (c) the average annual amount of capitalized expenditures for plant and equipment, etc. that the business requires to fully maintain its long-term competitive position and its unit volume....Our owner-earnings equation does not yield the deceptively precise figures provided by GAAP, since (c) must be a guess - and one sometimes very difficult to make. Despite this problem, we consider the owner earnings figure, not the GAAP figure, to be the relevant item for valuation purposes...All of this points up the absurdity of the 'cash flow' numbers that are often set forth in Wall Street reports. These numbers routinely include (a) plus (b) - but do not subtract (c)."
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