(In millions, except per share data)
The following information provides reconciliations of certain non-GAAP financial measures presented in the press release to which this reconciliation is attached to the most nearly comparable financial measures calculated and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). The company has provided the non-GAAP financial information presented in the press release, which is not calculated or presented in accordance with GAAP, as information supplemental and in addition to the financial measures presented in the press release that are calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP. Such non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered superior to, as a substitute for or as an alternative to, and should be considered in conjunction with, the GAAP financial measures presented in the press release. The non-GAAP financial measures in the press release may differ from similar measures used by other companies.
Free Cash Flow
We define free cash flow as net cash provided by operating activities in a period minus payments for property and equipment made in that period. Free cash flow was $7.0 billion and $3.4 billion for the nine-months ended Oct. 31, 2012 and 2011, respectively.
Free cash flow is considered a non-GAAP financial measure. Management believes, however, that free cash flow, which measures our ability to generate additional cash from our business operations, is an important financial measure for use in evaluating the company’s financial performance. Free cash flow should be considered in addition to, rather than as a substitute for, income from continuing operations as a measure of our performance and net cash provided by operating activities as a measure of our liquidity.
Additionally, our definition of free cash flow is limited, in that it does not represent residual cash flows available for discretionary expenditures as the measure does not deduct the payments required for debt service and other contractual obligations or payments made for business acquisitions. Therefore, we believe it is important to view free cash flow as a measure that provides supplemental information to our entire statements of cash flows.