how to solve for retained earnings

Shareholders’ equity (also called stockholder equity) is a combination of outstanding shares, common stock dividends, retained earnings, extra paid-in capital, and treasury stock. Generally, owner’s equity is your business’s assets minus liabilities at any given period of how to solve for retained earnings time. The retained earnings ending balance from the prior period will become the retained earnings beginning balance in subsequent periods. Retained earnings can be negative if a company has a net loss that exceeds the retained earnings of the previous accounting cycle.

What is the formula for beginning retained earnings?

Tips for calculating your retained earnings

Follow the formula: Take your beginning balance, add your net income, subtract any dividends paid, and you'll have your retained earnings for the year.

Of course, most growing companies will not pay dividends, and the vast majority of startups have negative income for long periods of time before generating a profit. While negative retained earnings are perfectly acceptable for a new business, effective management of RE can improve a startup’s long-term scalability. Your accounting software will handle this calculation for you when it generates your company’s balance sheet, statement of retained earnings and other financial statements. Retained earnings are a type of equity and are therefore reported in the shareholders’ equity section of the balance sheet. Although retained earnings are not themselves an asset, they can be used to purchase assets such as inventory, equipment, or other investments.

How to Calculate Retained Earnings

Investing money into your business reduces the amount of available retained earnings while buying additional stock increases it. Some companies use their retained earnings to repurchase shares of stock from shareholders. You might go this route for various reasons, such as increasing existing shareholders’ ownership stake or reducing the number of outstanding shares. If your business currently pays shareholder dividends, you simply need to subtract them from your net income. However, retained earnings is not a pool of money that’s sitting in an account. Calculating this figure is vital for demonstrating the long-term profitability of a business over its lifespan.

If a company has a high retained earnings percentage, it keeps more of its profits and reinvests them into the business, which indicates success. This information is usually found on the previous year’s balance sheet as an ending balance. You want to have at least 80% left over to dump onto the debt and really attack it.


The following is the retained earnings equation used by the calculator above. Continuing with the example above, say you just finished your second month in business. Thanks to some word-of-mouth marketing, you managed to pull in $5,000 in profits. Highlight the growing cybersecurity threats and the need for businesses to adopt passwordless authentication to stay ahead of hackers. The significance of this number lies in the fact that it dictates how much money a company can reinvest into its business.

This article breaks down everything you need to know about retained earnings, including its formula and examples. Now, you can do a few different things with your retained earnings from your business. You can keep on hiring, amp up production, dive into a new product line, or—last but not least—use them to pay off your business debt. Many companies adopt a retained earning policy so investors know what they’re getting into. For example, you could tell investors that you’ll pay out 40 percent of the year’s earnings as dividends or that you’ll increase the amount of dividends each year as long as the company keeps growing.

Retained earnings calculation examples

Thankfully, most small businesses don’t need to concern themselves with this. Thankfully, working out how to calculate retained earnings is simple and requires no complex mathematics. Any earnings retained after the business has met its obligations may be used to reward shareholders or focus on expansion. Here’s what you need to know about the retained earnings formula and what influences the final figure.

how to solve for retained earnings

When you own a business, it’s important to retain some of your earnings to reinvest into the business, pay down debt, give shareholders a return on their investment, or save for a rainy day. It can also refer to the balance sheet account you use to track those earnings. The RE balance may not always be a positive number, as it may reflect that the current period’s net loss is greater than that of the RE beginning balance. Alternatively, a large distribution of dividends that exceed the retained earnings balance can cause it to go negative. We can find the dividends paid to shareholders in the financing section of the company’s statement of cash flows.

Resources for Your Growing Business

Now, if you paid out dividends, subtract them and total the Statement of Retained Earnings. You will be left with the amount of retained earnings that you post to the retained earnings account on your new 2018 balance sheet. This represents capital that the company has made in income during its history and chose to hold onto rather than paying out dividends. Many companies will say they’re giving away X% of their company as stock dividends — you have to calculate how many shares X% represents. Retained earnings are all the net income/profits you have left after paying out dividends or distributions to owners/shareholders. If you’re the sole owner, that means any profits left over after you pay yourself from the company.

Treasury stock is a term typically used to describe the shares of a company that have been repurchased by the company and are held in the company’s treasury. Treasury stock purchases are often limited (by law) based on the amount of retained earnings for a year. At the same time, paying cash dividends decreases shareholders’ equity because it affects the company’s assets. A cash dividend is the major factor that affects retained earnings calculation. When you make cash dividend payments to stakeholders, it reduces retained earnings. Depending on how much you pay out, you could even end up with negative retained earnings.

Retained earnings could be used for funding an expansion or paying dividends to shareholders at a later date. Retained earnings are related to net (as opposed to gross) income because it’s the net income amount saved by a company over time. Profits give a lot of room to the business owner(s) or the company management to use the surplus money earned. This profit is often paid out to shareholders, but it can also be reinvested back into the company for growth purposes. Enter the beginning period retained earnings, cash dividends, and stock dividends into the calculator. The calculator will evaluate and display the retained earnings of your company.

  • Retained earnings (RE) are funds withheld (or retained) from net income that are not paid to shareholders as dividend payouts.
  • The distribution of dividends to shareholders can be in the form of cash or stock.
  • When you prepare your financial statements, you need to calculate retained earnings and report the total on the balance sheet.
  • Instead, they reallocate a portion of the RE to common stock and additional paid-in capital accounts.
  • In simple terms, retained earnings are the net profits that a company has earned since it began.
  • You can find this number by subtracting your company’s total expenses from its total revenue for the period.

By subtracting dividends from net income, you can see how much of the company’s profit gets reinvested into the business. It is January 18th, 2020 and the accounting department at ABC Inc. is hard at work preparing the financial statements for fiscal year 2019. The company has hired interns to help with the reporting process and you are mentoring Kayla, an intern in her 2nd undergraduate year. All of the amounts used by Kayla were obtained from the latest adjusted trial balance. In other words, net income is the company’s bottom line profit for the year, whereas, under the retained earnings definition, this figure is the accumulation of these net income figures over time.

Retained Earnings With no Dividend

For investors and financial analysts, retained earnings are essential since they offer in-depth insights into a company’s long-term growth potential. A company with a high level of retained earnings indicates that it has been able to generate consistent profits, which can be used for reinvestment in the business or to fund future growth opportunities. Learn how to find and calculate retained earnings using a company’s financial statements. The screenshot below is the income statement of Apple (AAPL) for the fiscal year ending 2022. The dotted red line in the shareholders’ equity section of the balance sheet is where the retained earnings line item can be found.

And if your retained earnings is lower than your assets, it could mean that you’re spending too much or not making enough money. As we mentioned above, retained earnings represent the total profit to date minus any dividends paid. In the long run, such initiatives may lead to better returns for the company shareholders instead of those gained from dividend payouts.