Free Cash Flow to Firm (FCFF)

Free cash flow to the firm (FCFF) is the amount of cash flow left from operations for distribution after paying all other expenses. In specifics, the free cash flow to firm is the money left over after depreciation expenses, taxes, working capital, and investments are accounted for a paid.

The free cash flow to firm shows if the company if being profitable. This is after all expenses and investments are taken care of. This is one of the many indicators used to see if the company is still doing well.

Free cash flow to the firm could be argued as the most important financial indicator of the company’s stock value. Positive free cash flow to firm value shows that the firm has cash remaining after paying its expenses. A negative value shows that the firm has not generated enough revenue to cover its costs and investments.

Free Cash Flow to Firm Formula

FCFF = NI + NC + ( I \times ( 1 - TR ) ) - LI - IWC
  • NI = net income
  • NC = non-cash charges
  • I = interest
  • TR = tax rate
  • LI = long-term investments
  • IWC = investments in working capital

The formula used to calculate the free cash flow to firm takes many forms. The most common formula used is shown above. However, there are several other formulas that can be used to calculate this as well. You should be able to find all the numbers you need on the company’s statement of cash flows.

To calculate the formula above you will need to add the Net income and Non-cash charges. Then you will need to multiply the interest by one minus the tax rate. Then subtract the long-term investments and investments in working capital. This will give you the final free cash flow to the firm.

Additional FCFF formulas

FCFF = CFO + ( IE \times (1 - TR)) - CAPEX
  • CFO = cash flow from operations
  • IE = interest expense
  • CAPEX = capital expenditures

To calculate this formula you will need to add the cash flow from operations to the interest expense multiplied by one minus the tax rate. Then you will need to subtract the capital expenditures.

FCFF = (EBIT \times (1 - TR)) - D - LI - IWC

To calculate this formula you will need to multiply the earnings before interest and taxes by one minus the tax rate. Then subtract the depreciation, long-term investments, and investment in working capital.

FCFF = ( EBITDA \times ( 1 - TR) ) + (D \times TR) - LI - IWC

To calculate this formula you will need to multiply the earnings before interest and taxes by one minus the tax rate. Then add the depreciation multiplied by the tax rate. You will then need to subtract the long-term investments and investment in working capital.

Free Cash Flow to Firm Example

OWL, Inc. had $8.519 billion in operating cash flow. The company also invested in a new plant and equipment. This caused them to purchase $3.349 billion in assets. The purchase is a CAPEX cash outlay. Within this same time OWL, Inc. paid $300 million in interest subject to a 30% tax rate. 

Let’s break it down to identify the meaning and value of the different variables in this problem. 

  • Cash flow from operations = $8,519 Million
  • Interest Expense = $300 Million
  • Tax Rate = 30%
  • Capital expenditures = $3,349 Million

Now let’s use our formula:

FCFF = CFO + ( IE \times (1 - TR)) - CAPEX

We can apply the values to our variables and calculate the free cash flow to the firm.

FCFF = 8{,}519 + ( 300 \times (1 - 30\%)) - 3{,}349 = \$5,380m

In this case, the free cash flow to the firm would be $5.38 billion. The free cash flow to the firm is positive. This shows the OWL, Inc. has generated enough revenue. They will have leftover money after all depreciation expenses, taxes, working capital, and investments are accounted for a paid. 

Free Cash Flow to Firm Analysis 

Free cash flow to the firm is possibly the most important financial indicator of a company’s stock value. The value/price of a stock is considered in many ways to be a summary of the company’s expected future cash flows. Unfortunately, stocks are not always accurately priced.

Being able to calculate this number allows investors to see if the stocks are priced fairly. The free cash flow to the firm also indicates that the company is able to pay dividends to its shareholders. Any investor looking to invest in a company should check on this number before making any payments.

Although the free cash flow to firm calculation shows investors a lot of information it is not perfect or free from possible corruption. Companies have leeway when it comes to what they have reported. There is no standard for determining this amount. Investors often disagree on what exactly should and should not be treated as capital expenditures. 

Because of this constant disagreement investors need to keep an eye on companies with consistently high reported values. Companies may be under-reporting capital expenditures and research development.

Companies can also up their free cash flow to firm values by stretching out their payments, tightening payment collection policies, and depleting inventories. All of these activities minimize current liabilities and changes to working capital, but the impacts are only temporary.

Free Cash Flow to Firm Conclusion

  • The free cash flow to the firm is the cash that is left over after all depreciation expenses, taxes, working capital, and investments are accounted for.
  • The formula for free cash flow to the firm requires the following 6 variables: Net income, Non-cash charges, Interest, Tax Rate, Long-term Investments, and Investments in Working Capital​
  • Free cash flow to the firm has been called the most important financial indicator of a company’s stock value.
  • Positive free cash flow to firm value shows that the company has money left over after expenses.
  • A negative value shows that the company is not creating enough revenue to cover all costs.
  • Investors must keep an eye on companies with a consistently high free cash flow to the firm to make sure numbers are not being fudged.

Free Cash Flow to the Firm Calculator

You can use the free cash flow to the firm calculator below to quickly calculate the free cash flow to the firm by entering the required numbers.