One of the fundamental components (for want of a better word) of accounting is the Balance Sheet. The balance sheet is often referred to as a statement of financial position. It can be described as a snapshot that shows the company's financial position at any given moment. Listed in the balance sheet are the company's assets, liabilities and owners equity.
If you view the balance sheet as a two column worksheet, the assets would be in the left column while the liabilities and owners equity would be in the right column. The two columns must be equal.
You won't be able to determine the company's profitability from the balance sheet. What the balance sheet will show is the solvency of the company. Analysts will look at various ratios (i.e. current ratio: current assets / current liabilities) to determine the company's financial well being.
Future entries in my Accounting Basics series will describe each of the components of the balance sheet.