What is the Cause of Retained Earning Increase or Decrease?

Retained earnings refer to the amount of accumulated net income a company chooses to keep instead of paying it out as dividends to shareholders.

Sometimes referred to as reserve, these profits are stored within the business and build up over time in order to form a capital base for future investments and operations.

The retained earnings figure can be seen on a company’s balance sheet, which is one of the components of its financial statement. Companies may decide to reinvest their retained earnings if they plan to expand operations or invest in new activities that may generate more returns.

This is seen as an attractive option as it allows companies to finance new projects without taking on additional debt or issuing equity, giving them flexibility with regard to payment options.

Additionally, retaining earnings may provide more opportunities for stock appreciation and increased investor confidence if those profits are used for smart investments that contribute positive returns. Ultimately, how much a company chooses to retain versus how much it distributes as dividends is a subjective decision made by management following careful consideration of the risks and potential rewards associated.

What are Retained Earnings?

Retained earnings represent the amount of money that a company retains from its profits over time. If a company earns $100 million in profits in the first year, but only pays out $30 million as dividends to shareholders and keeps the other $70 million as retained earnings, then their starting retained earning value for the following year would be $70 million. A company uses these retained earnings instead of taking debt or issuing more stock in order to fund operations and new initiatives.

Businesses must record Retained Earnings on their balance sheets when they close out their fiscal years.

Ending Retained Earnings = Beginning Retained Earnings + Profit/-Loss – Dividend

Its purpose is to reflect how much money a business has earned to reinvest back into the business without taking a new loan or equity.

It is important to note that some companies do not pay out any dividends at all, choosing instead to keep all their profits for themselves. This practice usually occurs with small companies that have not yet reached financial maturity and need capital for growth opportunities or research and development.

Additionally, some publicly listed companies cannot consider dividend policies until they become profitable or else raise enough cash before paying dividends to the investors.

Increase of Retained Earnings

Retained earnings are the cumulative net income a company has earned since the beginning. It is an important source of capital for companies to expand their operations, innovate, and invest in new projects. This is why savvy business owners use retained earnings to increase the value of their companies over time.

The main reason that company can increase the retained earnings is to increase the profit. When the revenue is greater than the expense, the company will generate net income. This net income will increase the retained earnings balance from the prior period.

Moreover, the company’s retained earnings may increase due to the adjustment. Company may have mistakes in the prior period. Due to various reasons, company understates the net income in the prior period. If they want to correct it, they need to adjust the retained earnings in the current period.

Retained Earning is the accumulated company profit/loss, so profit is the primary reason that leads to the increase of retained earnings.

Decrease of Retained Earnings

Retained Earning is the total profit or loss of the company from the beginning up to the reporting date. The profit will increase the balance of retained earnings on the balance sheet.

On the other hand, the net loss will reduce the amount of retained earnings from the company’s financial statement. The net loss happens when the total expense exceeds the total revenue over a period of time. It will generate a net loss on the debit side of the trial balance. The net loss will reduce the amount of retained earnings from the opening balance.

Moreover, the retained earnings also decrease due to dividends paid to the investors. The dividend is the amount of profit that company distributes to the shareholders. The amount of dividend will base on the company’s board of directors. The total amount of dividends will reduce the company retained earnings. When dividends are distributed from retained earnings it reduces the amount available for future growth and reinvestment.


Retained earnings can be an indicator of a company’s financial health, as increases indicate that a company is profitable and is able to reinvest in its own growth. However, retained earnings can also decrease over time if a company begins to experience financial troubles. It is therefore important to keep an eye on both what causes retained earnings to increase and decrease in order to effectively track the performance of a business.