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A Beginner’s Guide To Horizontal Analysis

how to perform horizontal analysis

A 66% increase in sales in a year speaks that the business is growing at a very rapid speed. With horizontal analysis, you use a line-by-line comparison to the totals.

Thus, horizontal analysis helps to understand how successfully this has been achieved considering a period of time. A horizontal analysis, also referred to as ‘trend analysis’, is a procedure in the financial analysis where the amounts of financial information over a certain period of time is compared line by line in order to make related decisions. For example, you can compare line items of income statement for the financial year 2018 with the year 2019, to know how each item changed, why it’s changed and whether such change is favorable or unfavorable. You can easily identify whether the company is improving or declining. In the HORIZONTAL analysis, the analyst always compares the financial statement of the business for the more than two accounting periods. Like horizontal analysis, vertical analysis is used to mine useful insights from your financial statements.

  • Developing your interpersonal skills and improving in Ways of Knowing you can better understand financial statement analysis.
  • By comparing historical financial information you can easily determine your growth and position compared to your competitors.
  • Management needs to know what moves to make in order to improve the future performance of the company.
  • Using the comparative income statement above, you can see that your net income changed by $1,500 from 2017; a percentage increase of 5.3%, but what really stands out on the income statement is the 266% increase in depreciation expense.

No company lives in a bubble, so it is also helpful to compare these results with those of competitors to determine whether the problem is industry-wide, or just within the company itself. If no problems exist industry-wide, one will observe a shortfall in Sales and rise in the dollar amount of Sales returns. The ability to spot this trend over time empowers you to intervene and be pro-active in solving the problem. Vertical Analysis – compares the relationship between a single item on the Financial Statements to the total transactions within one given period. Besides analyzing the past performance, analysis helps determine the strategy of a company moving forward. Most importantly, Financial Analysis points to the financial destination of the business in both the near future and to its long-term trends. In general, an analysis of Financial Statements is vital for a person running a business.

Horizontal And Vertical Analysis

If the cost of goods sold amount is $1 million, it will be presented as 50% ($1 million divided by sales of $2 million). Generally accepted accounting principles are based on the consistency and comparability of financial statements. Using consistent accounting principles like GAAP ensures consistency and the ability to accurately review a company’s financial statements over time. Comparability is the ability to review two or more different companies’ financials as a benchmarking exercise.

Usually, the purpose of such manipulation is to artificially make the results of this year appear good. This can be done by income summary comparing the current period’s performance with that period which will make the current period’s performance look good.

Read our review of this popular small business accounting application to see why. Adding a third year to the analysis will be even more helpful, as you’ll be able to see if there is a definite trend. We may receive compensation from partners and advertisers whose products appear here. Compensation may impact where products are placed on our site, but editorial opinions, scores, and reviews are independent from, and never influenced by, any advertiser or partner. Construction Management CoConstruct CoConstruct is easy-to-use yet feature-packed software for home builders and remodelers.

how to perform horizontal analysis

Just like analysing the income statement, historical data comparison of the balance sheet can be done in whole or in part. Horizontal analysis of the balance sheet is also usually in a two-year format, such as the one shown below, with a variance showing the difference between the two years for each line item. An alternative format is to add as many years as will fit on the page, without showing a variance, so that you can see general changes by account over multiple years. A less-used format is to include a vertical analysis of each year in the report, so that each year shows each line item as a percentage of the total assets in that year.

A technique often used both with ratio analysis and vertical analysis is benchmarking, which computes common-size financial statements or financial ratios and compares them with other companies and industry standards. This technique is popular and is sometimes used to compare a company to its competitors.

How detailed your initial financial statements are depends largely on the accounting software application you’re using. If you’re using an entry-level application, it’s likely you’ll need to use spreadsheets in order to complete the horizontal analysis.


This could be done when you audit the purchasing department and do a review of the purchasing process, documentation process, training process, records retention, corrective actions, non-conforming products, contract control, etc. When using this type of process it can be much easier to see how these different procedures interact across the quality management system, and you can judge the linkages between procedures. Horizontal analysis can be performed in one of the following two different methods i.e. absolute comparison or percentage comparison. Understanding past trends of a company in a less stable environment can help you in assessing trends and capabilities of management to handle economic downturn. Vertical and horizontal bar charts are useful to compare different items of information at the same time.

how to perform horizontal analysis

It can also be performed on ratios such as earnings per share , price earning ratio, dividend payout, and other similar ratio. In the vertical analysis, the assets, liabilities, and equity is presented in the form of a percentage. The vertical analysis shows the financial position of the business on based of lined up numbers. The horizontal analysis compares the figures under the head of financial statement and vertical analysis compared the numbers and percentage change in line up the total of items with reference to the previous year. Examining the balance sheet, horizontal analysis is used to compare historical data of assets, liabilities and owner’s equity accounts.

Horizontal Analysis Of Financial Statements

In the same vein, a company’s emerging problems and strengths can be detected by looking at critical business performance, such as return on equity, inventory turnover, or profit margin. Trends how to perform horizontal analysis or changes are measured by comparing the current year’s values against those of the base year. The goal is to determine any increase or decline in specific values that has taken place.

how to perform horizontal analysis

Horizontal analysis can also be used to benchmark a company with competitors in the same industry. Alicia Tuovila is a certified public accountant with 7+ years of experience in financial accounting, with expertise in budget preparation, month and year-end closing, financial statement preparation and review, and financial analysis. She is an expert in personal finance and taxes, and earned her Master of Science in Accounting at University of Central Florida. To illustrate, consider an investor who wishes to determine Company ABC’s performance over the past year before investing. Assume that ABC reported a net income of $15 million in the base year, and total earnings of $65 million were retained.

Let us assume that we are provided with the Income Statement data of company ABC. We need to perform horizontal analysis of the income statement of this company. You can also choose to calculate income statement ratios such as gross margin and profit margin.

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The company reported a net income of $25 million and retained total earnings of $67 million in the current year. Since we do not have any further information about the segments, we will project the future sales of Colgate on the basis of this available data. We will use the sales growth approach across segments to derive the forecasts.

The horizontal analysis technique uses a base year and a comparison year to determine a company’s growth. The same process applied to ABC Company’s balance sheet would likely reveal further insights into how the company is structured and how that structure is changing over time. Applying common-size analysis to firm’s balance sheet gives us a clear understanding of its capital structure, which can be compared to other firms or some optimal capital structure for the industry. It also allows to estimate whether some of the company’s debts being too high. E.g. HGY Company’s income statement for the year ended 2016 is shown below along with the financial results for the year 2015. If the decrease in cost of goods sold is in proportion to decrease in sales, it indicates that the management is able to manage it effectively.

Just like we performed horizontal and vertical analysis on the income statement, we can also run these calculations on the balance sheet . The process to calculate these ratios is similar to the examples we went through above and are fairly straight forward. …and also what financial statement you can perform horizontal and vertical analysis. Horizontal analysis is a financial statement analysis technique that shows changes in the amounts of corresponding financial statement items over a period of time. It’s almost impossible to tell which is growing faster by just looking at the numbers. We can perform horizontal analysis on the income statement by simply taking the percentage change for each line item year-over-year.

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This high percentage means most of your Assets are liquid, and it may be time to either invest that money or use it to purchase additional Plant Assets. In our sample Balance Sheet, we want to determine the percentage or portion a line item is of the entire category.

Vertical analysis is a method of financial statement analysis in which each line item is listed as a percentage of a base figure within the statement. Financial statement analysis is the process of analyzing a company’s financial statements for decision-making accounting purposes. For example, the vertical analysis of an income statement results in every income statement amount being restated as a percent of net sales. If a company’s net sales were $2 million, they will be presented as 100% ($2 million divided by $2 million).

Whether you do a horizontal analysis quarterly or yearly, it’s worth the time and effort to perform this calculation regularly. Accounting Accounting software helps manage payable and receivable accounts, general ledgers, payroll and other accounting activities. John Freedman’s articles specialize in management and financial responsibility. He is a certified public accountant, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and has been writing since 1998. His career includes public company auditing and work with the campus recruiting team for his alma mater. The amount shown in the horizontal analysis will be of 200%, since ”Year 2” $ 10,000 of cash corresponds to 200% of the cash in ”Year 1”. The amount shown in the horizontal analysis will be of 100%, since ”Year 2” $ 5,000 of cash corresponds to 100% of the cash in ”Year 1”.

Author: Donna Fuscaldo