Refer to the financial statements and related disclosure notes of Dell Inc. located in the company's annual report for the fiscal year ending January 30, 2009, included with all new copies of the text. You also can locate the report online at www.dell.com.
Notice that Dell's net income has steadily increased over the three years reported. To supplement their analysis of profitability, many analysts like to look at “free cash flow.” A popular way to measure this metric is “structural free cash flow” (or as Warren Buffett calls it “owner's earnings”), which is calculated as net income from operations plus depreciation and amortization minus capital expenditures.
Determine free cash flows for Dell in each of the three years reported. Compare that amount with net income each year. What pattern do you detect?