Cash equivalents represent current assets that are easily convertible to cash such as short term bonds, savings account, money market funds, or certificate of deposits (CDs). One of the important consideration companies make when classifying assets as cash equivalent is that investments they report on their balance sheets under current assets should have almost no risk of change in value over the next few months (usually 3 months).
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Cash or Cash Equivalents are the most liquid of all assets found on company's balance sheet. It is used in calculating many of the firm's liquidity ratios and is a good indicator of overall financial health of a company. Companies with a lot of cash are usually attractive takeover targets. Cash Equivalents are balance sheet items that are typically reported using currency printed on notes.