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In accounting, retained earnings refer to the part of net income which is retained by the company rather than distributed among its owners as dividends. Likewise, if the company takes a loss, then that loss is retained and called retained losses or accumulated losses. Retained earnings and losses are collective from year to year with losses counterbalance earnings.
Retained earnings are stated in the shareholders' equity segment of the balance sheet. Companies with net accumulated losses referred as negative shareholders' and equity as a shareholders' deficit. An entire report of the retained earnings or retained losses is on hand in the Statement of Retained Earnings or Statement of Retained Losses.
When total assets are more than total liabilities, stockholders have a positive equity that is positive book value. On the other hand, when total liabilities are more than total assets, stockholders have a negative stockholders' equity or negative book value. A stockholders' deficit does not mean that stockholders owe money to the company as they own only its net assets and are not responsible for its liabilities.