The first line on any income statement is an entry called total revenue or total sales. This figure is the amount of money a business brought in during the time period covered by the income statement. It has nothing to do with profit. If you owned a pizza parlor and sold 10 pizzas for $10 each, you would record $100 of revenue regardless of your profit or loss.
The revenue figure is important because a business must bring in money to turn a profit. If a company has less revenue, all else being equal, it's going to make less money. For startup companies and new ventures that have yet to turn a profit, revenue can sometimes serve as a gauge of potential profitability in the future.
Many companies break revenue or sales up into categories to clarify how much was generated by each division. Clearly defined and separate revenues sources can make analyzing an income statement much easier. It allows more accurate predictions on future growth. Starbucks' 2001 income statement is an excellent example (see Table STAR-1 at the bottom of this page).
As you see in the chart, sales at Starbucks come primarily from two sources: retail and specialty. In the annual report, management explains the difference between the two several pages before the income statement. "Retail" revenues refer to sales made at company-owned Starbucks stores across the world. Every time you walk in and order your favorite coffee, you are adding $3 to $5 in revenue to the company's books. "Specialty" operations, on the other hand, consists of money the company brings in by sales to "wholesale accounts and licensees, royalty and license fee income and sales through its direct-to-consumer business". In other words, the specialty division includes money the business receives from coffee sales made directly to customers through its website or catalog, along with licensing fees generated by companies such as Barnes and Nobles, which pay for the right to operate Starbucks locations in their bookstores.
This page is part of Investing Lesson 4 - How to Read an Income Statement. To go back to the beginning, see the Table of Contents.
Consolidated Statement fo Earnings - Excerpt
Page 29, 2001 Annual Report
In thousands except earnings per share
|Fiscal year ended||Sept 30, 2001||Oct 1, 2000|
|Total net revenues||$2,648,980||$2,177,614|