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Balance Sheet vs. Profit and Loss Account: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 29, 2024
Balance Sheet is a financial statement showing a company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. Profit and Loss Account is a financial report detailing a company's revenues, expenses, and net profit over a certain period.

Key Differences

A balance sheet is a snapshot of a company's financial position at a particular moment, detailing assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity. The profit and loss account, however, shows the company's operational performance over a period, including income, expenses, and net profit or loss.
In the balance sheet, assets must equal the sum of liabilities and shareholders' equity, showing financial stability. The profit and loss account focuses on the company's ability to generate profit by subtracting expenses from revenue.
The balance sheet is crucial for assessing a company's liquidity and financial health. Conversely, the profit and loss account is essential for understanding the company's operational efficiency and profitability.
Balance sheets provide valuable information for investment and credit decisions. In contrast, the profit and loss account is often used to assess the company's revenue trends and cost management effectiveness.
The balance sheet offers a long-term view of the company's financial health, while the profit and loss account gives insights into short-term financial performance and operational success.

Comparison Chart

Time Frame

Specific point in time
Over a period (monthly, quarterly, annually)


Assets, Liabilities, Shareholders' Equity
Revenues, Expenses, Net Profit/Loss


Shows financial position and stability
Shows operational performance and efficiency


Liquidity, Solvency, Financial Health
Revenue, Expenses, Profitability

User Interest

Investors, Creditors for financial health
Management, Investors for operational health

Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Account Definitions

Balance Sheet

A snapshot of a company's financial health.
Investors studied the balance sheet to understand the firm's financial health.

Profit and Loss Account

A report of income and expenditures for a period.
The quarterly profit and loss account displayed improved margins.

Balance Sheet

A summary of what a company owns and owes.
The balance sheet indicated more assets than liabilities.

Profit and Loss Account

A summary of financial performance.
The annual profit and loss account was essential for the shareholder meeting.

Balance Sheet

A financial tool for assessing a company's net worth.
The CEO reviewed the balance sheet to evaluate the company's net worth.

Profit and Loss Account

A financial report indicating operational success.
According to the profit and loss account, the marketing strategy was effective.

Balance Sheet

A record of a company's assets, liabilities, and equity.
Their balance sheet revealed a significant increase in long-term liabilities.

Profit and Loss Account

A tool for assessing profitability and cost management.
The profit and loss account revealed a need for better cost control.

Balance Sheet

A statement of financial position at a given date.
The balance sheet on December 31st showed a strong cash position.

Profit and Loss Account

A statement summarizing revenue and expenses over time.
The profit and loss account showed a steady increase in revenue.


What are assets on a balance sheet?

Assets are resources owned by the company, like cash, inventory, and property.

Is a profit and loss account the same as an income statement?

Yes, they are essentially the same.

How often are balance sheets prepared?

Typically, annually and quarterly.

Can a profit and loss account show a net loss?

Yes, if expenses exceed revenues.

Why is a balance sheet important for investors?

It helps assess the company's financial stability and investment risk.

What does a profit and loss account show?

It details a company's revenue, expenses, and net profit or loss over a certain period.

What is a balance sheet?

A financial statement showing a company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time.

What are expenses in a profit and loss account?

Expenses are costs incurred in earning revenue, like salaries and rent.

How do liabilities differ from equity on a balance sheet?

Liabilities are what the company owes, while equity represents the owner's share.

Do these statements include taxes?

Yes, taxes are liabilities on the balance sheet and expenses in the profit and loss account.

How do these statements help in loan applications?

They demonstrate the company's financial health and repayment capacity.

Can these statements predict future performance?

They provide historical data, which can be used for forecasting.

What role do these statements play in mergers and acquisitions?

They are crucial for evaluating the financial position and performance of the target company.

Can these statements be manipulated?

While they should be accurate, there are cases of financial statement manipulation.

How does a profit and loss account help in budgeting?

It provides insights into revenue trends and expense management.

How does depreciation appear in these statements?

As an expense in the profit and loss account, reducing asset value on the balance sheet.

How do seasonal businesses reflect in these statements?

Seasonal variations can appear in the profit and loss account, while the balance sheet shows a longer-term view.

Are balance sheets and profit and loss accounts audited?

Yes, particularly for public companies.

What does a negative balance in a balance sheet indicate?

It may indicate financial distress or insolvency.

Can a profit and loss account affect stock prices?

Yes, as it reflects the company's financial performance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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