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So a positive value for "Gains from financing activities" is a bad thing because it means the company is piling on debt (so we want to see a negative number here?)

No, not necessarily. A company needs to finance itself somehow and sometimes it needs more cash than operating cash flow can provide to expand. If it can get cheap debt or sell new shares when the stock price is at or above fair value then so be it. These days, many companies are taking on some very cheap debt (Microsoft is an example) to finance projects that pay a return higher than the cost of the debt.

Main thing is to just keep tabs and see how much debt they are taking on and if it is reasonable based on the nature of the business. If the cash flows are super-steady and dependable like Microsoft's or Coca Cola's it makes sense to take on debt to fund projects. Not only can you put that money to work on projects that earn higher return than the cost of the debt but you can probably get a dirt cheap rate on that debt when you combine the quality of your company with the low rates already available.

I'm a generalist investor and don't specialize in any one sector, but I don't have any experience with Greek banks, I'll tell you that for sure. My favorite types of companies are the easier-to-value ones like the Costco's, Wal-mart's, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola's. While you might think you'd never be able to buy these companies cheap, I've had two opportunities in 10 years to buy all sorts of high quality, fairly-easy-to-value companies at a cheap price during the last two recessions. Sometimes you just have to wait around and be patient. Sure is a lot easier than valuing a Greek bank.

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