Horizontal Analysis: What It Is vs Vertical Analysis

Performing a vertical analysis of a company’s cash flow statement represents every cash outflow or inflow relative to its total cash inflows. Secondly, in the second type of horizontal analysis, we are interested in knowing about the underlying trends in the line items of the income statement. For this, we compare the absolute change ($) and percentage change (%) in all the line items from one period to the other. One should ideally take three or more accounting periods/years to identify trends and how a company is performing from one year/accounting period to the next year/accounting period.

At least two accounting periods are required for a valid comparison, though in order to spot actual trends, it’s better to include three or more accounting periods when calculating horizontal analysis. On the other hand, comparability constraint dictates that a company’s financial statements and other documentation be such that they can be evaluated against other similar companies within the same industry. Horizontal analysis is used to improve and enhance these constraints during financial reporting. Depending on their expectations, Mistborn Trading could make decisions to alter operations to produce expected outcomes. For example, MT saw a 50% accounts receivable increase from the prior year to the current year.

From the above examples, the horizontal analysis only pushes to present the changes in these different periods and offer companies or businesses easy pointers to the health of their financial growth and situations. However, more than two financial statements need to be compared to obtain more reliable results for proper financial analysis. Likewise, the following is a horizontal analysis of a firm’s 2018 and 2019 balance sheets. Again, the amount and percentage differences for each line are listed in the final two columns and can be used to target areas of interest. For instance, the increase of $344,000 in total assets represents a 9.5% change in the positive direction. There seems to be a relatively consistent overall increase throughout the key totals on the balance sheet.

It’s important to note that horizontal analysis can be conducted for various financial statement items, such as revenues, expenses, assets, or liabilities. By comparing financial data across periods, it helps identify patterns, variations, and potential areas of concern or improvement. By analyzing financial statements, your company accurately spots trends over time and identifies the mix of assets and liabilities it has to deal with within a certain period. Financial analysis helps you examine relationships between different financial items and determine efficient operations to manage them.

The latter could mean you are not using your assets wisely and need to make operational changes. Such comparisons help identify problems for which you can find the underlying cause and take corrective action. As business owners, we are so busy with the day-to-day operations of running a business that we may forget to take a look at our business as a whole and ignore any company financial statement analysis. In the above table, it can be seen that the gross profit margin, operating income margin, and net income margin of Apple Inc. have remained quite stable during the last three years. Such a stable margin is indicative of the business strength of the company as it requires immaculate management to manage the cost accounts despite various operational challenges.

  1. Dummies helps everyone be more knowledgeable and confident in applying what they know.
  2. Liquidity ratios are needed to check if the company is liquid enough to settle its debts and pay back any liabilities.
  3. We’ve learned from on-the-ground experience about these terms specially the product comparisons.

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes. If anything, they only let you stay in compliance with regulatory standards such as GAAP. You also need to reliably understand how your business is fairing and this is where financial statement analysis comes in.

The two examples below show how to do horizontal analysis using Google Sheets, but you can easily do the same in Excel. The first example is based on a balance sheet, and the second is on an income statement. Worthy of note at this time is that for a trend analysis to be truly meaningful, it must include multiple periods, be they months, quarters, or years. The above is only meant to illustrate the process and, being for one term only, cannot be seen as decisive. A fundamental part of financial statement analysis is comparing a company’s results to its performance in the past and to the average industry benchmark set by comparable peers in the same (or adjacent) industry. Horizontal analysis, or “time series analysis”, is oriented around identifying trends and patterns in the revenue growth profile, profit margins, and/or cyclicality (or seasonality) over a predetermined period.

What is the Horizontal Analysis Formula?

This calculation helps identify trends and fluctuations in financial performance, which is useful in making informed business decisions. When using the Horizontal Analysis Calculator, ensure accurate input of the financial data amounts for the current and base periods to obtain reliable results. Additionally, consider any specific adjustments or considerations needed for different financial statement items or industry-specific analyses. The business will need to determine which line item they are comparing all items to within that statement and then calculate the percentage makeup.

A financial professional will offer guidance based on the information provided and offer a no-obligation call to better understand your situation. Horizontal analysis also makes it easier to detect when a business is underperforming. For example, a $1 million increase in General Motors’ cash balance program evaluation is likely to represent a much smaller percentage increase than a corresponding $1 million increase in American Motors’ cash balance. This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

This can assist in determining what is a definite pattern and what is a one-time occurrence. However, an extra vertical analysis approach is required for management and innovators to make better-informed judgments. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. This type of analysis is also very useful if an investor wants to determine the performance of a company prior to investing in the same.

Horizontal Analysis: Definition, Formula & Examples

The final step involves you reviewing these changes and making appropriate use of the information you get from your analysis. It is where you determine your company’s growth and trend in your financial health. The percentage change approach is where the full force of the horizontal analysis formula comes in and changes are fully represented in percentage. For instance, Horizontal Analysis through direct comparison involves comparing your $4.5 million 2019 revenue with your 2020 revenue of $6 million. With this method, the difference ($1.5 million) is taken note of and you quickly spot the change between the two periods.

Module 15: Financial Statement Analysis

Horizontal analysis typically shows the changes from the base period in dollar and percentage. For example, a statement that says revenues have increased by 10% this past quarter is based on horizontal analysis. The percentage change is calculated by first dividing the dollar change between the comparison year and the base year by the line item value in the base year, then multiplying the quotient by 100. Horizontal analysis is comparing a recent year to a base year and identifying growth trends.

For example, if your industry is seasonal, comparing consecutive quarters would provide misleading results. It would make more sense to compare the values for a specific quarter to the same quarter from past years. If you happen to choose a particularly bad time period for your base values, the values for your comparison period may look much better than they are.

Results from vertical analysis over multiple financial periods can be particularly useful while conducting regression analysis. Accountants see relative changes in company accounts over a given period of time and determine the best strategy to improve the relationship between financial items and variables. For more detailed representations of how horizontal analysis really works, here are a few examples with balance sheets, income statements, and retained earnings. For instance, instead of creating a balance sheet or income statement for one specific period of time, you would also create a comparative income statement or balance sheet that covers quarterly or annual activity for your business.

From a general view, it could be seen that the company made considerable growth in its income between the years. The percentage representation makes it easier to determine the level of change between these different periods. To start with, the statements over which comparison is intended to be made need to be in existence and available. The more popular financial statements over which Horizontal Analysis is executed are the income statement and balance sheet. In this sample comparative income statement, sales increased 20.0% from one year to the next, yet gross profit and income from operations increased quite a bit more at 33.3% and 60.0%, respectively. Changes between the income from operations and net income lines can be reviewed to identify the reasons for the relatively lower increase in net income.

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