What Is a Profit and Loss Statement?


A Profit and Loss (P&L) statement, also known as an income statement, is a business report that provides information on a company’s income and expenses over a specified period of time. The purpose of the P&L statement is to show the business’s financial performance in order to allow the managers to make informed strategic decisions. Analyzing the P&L statement can be of great benefit for managers as it can provide valuable insights about the company's financial strength and the overall financial health of the business.

Detailed Description of P&L Statement

A Profit & Loss Statement (P&L Statement) summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses of a company for a specified period. This statement illustrates the profitability of a company, thereby providing information to stakeholders such as shareholders, lenders, etc. It is also known as an Income Statement or Statement of Operations.

What Is Included on P&L Statement

The following elements are typically included in a P&L Statement:

  • Revenue: Revenue or turnover is the total money the company has earned from the sale of goods and services over a specified period of time.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This figure refers to the cost of producing the goods that were sold during the accounting period.
  • Gross Profit: The total revenue minus the cost of goods sold yields the gross profit. This figure represents the profit the company realized from its operations.
  • Operating Expenses: Operating Expenses include overhead costs such as salaries, depreciation, taxes, rent, etc.
  • Net Profit: The net profit is the gross profit minus the operating expenses.

What Is Not Included on P&L Statement

The P&L Statement contains only the income gained and expenses incurred to earn that income. Thus, it does not include elements such as capital gains and losses, long-term investments, principal payments from debt, and profits from investments.

Format of P&L Statement

A Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement is a financial statement that is used to measure an organization’s financial performance and sustainability. The P&L statement is broken down into two main categories, income and expenses.


Income is the total amount of money that is received by the company in a specific period of time. This can include money generated from sales, investment gains, rent, and other forms of income.


Expenses are the total amount of money that the company spends in the specified time period. Some of these expenses can include employee salaries and benefits, rent and utilities, professional fees, materials and supplies, and marketing costs.

  • employee salaries and benefits
  • rent and utilities
  • professional fees
  • materials and supplies
  • marketing costs

By subtracting total expenses from total income, the company is able to calculate its net profit or net loss. The net profit or loss will appear at the bottom of the P&L statement.

Use of P&L Information

A Profit and Loss Statement is an essential document for analyzing and assessing the financial performance and health of a business. It provides useful insight that can be used to make key decisions that affect the business, such as pricing and financing.

Calculating Profit or Loss

The primary benefit of a Profit and Loss Statement is that it provides a clear understanding of how much profit or loss has been made in a particular period of time. By combining revenue with expenses, the statement reveals how profitable the business has been, along with the operations and costs associated with the running of the business.

Making Business Decisions

Profit and Loss Statements can also be used to make informed decisions when it comes to setting prices, identifying spending patterns, adjusting operations, and creating a budget for the coming period. By analyzing the revenue and expenses, the statement can give an indication of where more money could be saved or where additional costs are incurred.

To maximize success and efficiency, businesses should strive to use Profit and Loss Statements to continually review and monitor their financial performance and make decisions that will benefit and enhance their operations.

Auditing P&L

When preparing a company’s annual financial reports, auditing the Profit and Loss (P&L) statement is often a requirement for reporting to investors and other stakeholders. Auditing the P&L statement is designed to ensure accuracy, completeness, and proper representation of the financial performance and situation of the organization.

Reviews by Internal and External Auditors

The review of a P&L statement can be done by both internal and external auditors. Internal auditors are typically finance professionals that are hired by the company to assess its financial health. They review financial documents and provide recommendations to the company’s management to help improve the financial performance of the organization. External auditors are typically independent, third-party firms that perform an audit of the financial statements, including the P&L. They provide an independent opinion on the financial statements to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations.

Types of Audits

The type of audit that is performed on a P&L statement will vary depending on the objectives of the audit. The most common types of audits are:

  • Financial auditing, which focuses on the accuracy of the financial information presented in the P&L statement.
  • Accounting auditing, which looks at the accounting practices and procedures used in the preparation of the P&L statement.
  • Regulatory auditing, which reviews the organization’s compliance with applicable regulations.
  • Management auditing, which evaluates the management’s strategies and decisions in light of their affect on the company’s financial performance.

Auditing the P&L statement is an important step in ensuring accuracy and compliance and provides stakeholders with the assurance that the financial performance of the organization is being properly reported.

Comparison between Profit and Loss Statements

When it comes to understanding your business’s financial health, it can be useful to compare your profit and loss (P&L) statement to other similar companies. Comparing P&Ls of different businesses can be beneficial for identifying trends and understanding how your company is performing in comparison to others.

Yearly Profit and Loss Statements

Comparing yearly P&L statements for your company can help identify any growth or decline trends that are occurring in your business. It can also be useful in helping to plan for the upcoming year.

When comparing yearly P&Ls, look for any changes or fluctuations in revenue, costs and expenses. This can help you identify any areas that need improvement and ways to cut costs or increase revenue in the future.

Comparing P&L Statements Across Companies

Comparing your P&L statement to those of other businesses in your industry or sector can help you understand how you’re performing in comparison to other companies and see what strategies they’re using. For example, if you’re in the retail business, looking at other retailers’ P&L statements can provide insights into what types of marketing strategies and advertising campaigns work for your sector and which ones don’t.

It’s important to remember that not all business models are the same, so comparing one business’s P&L statement to another may not be an apples-to-apples comparison. For this reason, it’s important to understand the differences between industries and how they impact the P&L statement before making any comparisons.


Understanding a Profit and Loss Statement is essential for business owners. A P&L Statement captures the company’s performance through its income and expenses, with an aim to calculate net profit. It provides tangible info on how the business is doing, indicating which areas are showing profitability, as well as areas which need improvement and money-saving.

The benefits of having access to and auditing P&L Statements are immense. Not only does it provide a company with info on its financial performance, by correctly examining it a business can manage its future and also impress investors, creditors and a whole host of other stakeholders.

By reviewing their Profit and Loss Statements, businesses can compare their performance with industry averages, enact cost-cutting measures, and review pricing models, among other things. It’s an essential tool for businesses to employ in order to stay competitive.

Therefore, it is highly recommended for business owners to make sure to frequently audit their P&L Statements and take advantage of the advantages that they provide.

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