12 7: Horizontal and Vertical Trend Analysis Business LibreTexts

12 7: Horizontal and Vertical Trend Analysis Business LibreTexts

Companies may choose to make a period of very poor financial performance the base period and compare all other financial periods with it. This way, companies willfully maneuver and change their growth and profitability trends to their advantage. This makes it easy to see how your company performs over time and identify trends or patterns.

However, the same results may be below par when the base year is changed to the same quarter for the previous year. 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. The company reported a net income of $25 million and retained total earnings of $67 million in the current year.

So, for example, when analyzing an income statement, the first line item, sales, will be established as the base value (100%), and all other account balances below it will be expressed as a percentage of that number. Analyze the financial statements of key competitors to gain a broader understanding of industry dynamics and identify areas for improvement or potential competitive advantages. Trend analysis examines the direction and magnitude of changes in financial metrics over an extended period. It helps identify recurring patterns and assess the long-term performance of the company. Variance analysis compares actual financial performance with the expected or budgeted performance. By identifying and analyzing variances, you can gain insights into the factors driving the deviations from the planned targets.

  • Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent.
  • For example, a business may compare sales from their current year to sales from the prior year.
  • Depending on which accounting period an analyst starts from and how many accounting periods are chosen, the current period can be made to appear unusually good or bad.
  • Overall, Apple had a 124.1% decrease in cash for the year, which decreased the end-of-the-year cash balance by 10.2%.
  • Drag down the cell with the formula to copy it to the other current assets line items.

To make the best use of your financial data, you need a robust toolkit with plenty of options for slicing and dicing information in meaningful ways. Today’s economy is undergoing constant and significant change thanks to digital disruption, complex globe-spanning phenomena like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ever-expanding impact (and importance) of Big Data. To compete effectively and strategically, it’s important for businesses of all sizes to make use of the tools at their disposal. Both horizontal and vertical analysis each have a role to play in a company’s financial management, business process management, and overall strategic and competitive planning. Horizontal and vertical analysis are two types of analysis you can do that use simple mathematical formulas. Ideally, two years (or periods) of data is required to conduct these types of analysis because knowing the horizontal or vertical analysis for one year of a business is useful, but you obtain greater insights by observing firm trends over time.


Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. The bidirectional MR analysis uncovers the intricate interplay between peripheral metabolites and PC, offering novel insights into PC etiology. Our findings contribute to the broader understanding of PC biology and may guide the development of innovative strategies for early diagnosis and intervention. Further research is warranted to elucidate the precise molecular mechanisms underlying the observed causal relationships and to explore the clinical implications of the identified metabolites. Linking the 3 statements together in Excel is the building block of financial modeling. Each of these three sections tells us a unique and important part of the company’s sources and uses of cash over a specific time period.

Another method of analysis MT might consider before making a decision is vertical analysis. Through horizontal analysis, we observe that Company A has experienced consistent revenue growth over the five-year period. The growth rates of 20%, 25%, 20%, and 11.11% indicate a positive trend in the company’s revenue generation. To further illustrate the practical application of horizontal analysis, let’s explore a few more examples that showcase its effectiveness in assessing financial performance and identifying trends. The amount and percentage differences for each line are listed in the final two columns, respectively. Creditors and investors use vertical analysis to compare a company’s financial performance to that of others in the same industry.

In particular, take note of any measurements included in a company’s loan covenants, since it makes sense to monitor trends in these measurements that could lead to a covenant breach. This type of presentation makes it easier to spot declining margins and/or liquidity problems early and make corrections before they can become serious concerns. On the other hand, vertical analysis offers a snapshot, a deep dive into the structural composition of financial statements at a particular moment. Horizontal income statement analysis is typically done in a two-year manner, as shown below, with a variance that shows the difference between the two years for each line item. These formulas are used to compare trends across time, which might be quarter-to-quarter or year-to-year, depending on the accounting period from which the data is derived. Horizontal analysis is the evaluation of an organization’s financial performance over many reporting periods.

  • By exploring coverage ratios, interest coverage ratio, and cash flow-to-debt ratio, horizontal analysis can establish whether sufficient liquidity can service a company.
  • Firstly, our conclusions are solely derived from MR analysis, necessitating experimental validation.
  • Vertical analysis requires numbers in a financial statement to be restated as percentages of a base dollar amount.
  • With the income statement and balance sheet under our belt, let’s look at the cash flow statement and all the insights it tells us about the business.

Horizontal analysis is one of the most fundamental analyses of historical financial information that you can perform. If we take historical data of the financial statements of a company for year 1 and year 2, then one can compare each item and how it has changed year-over-year. These formulas are used to evaluate trends which can either be quarter-on-quarter or year-on-year depending on the accounting period from which the data is sourced. For horizontal analysis, it’s best to take several years of historical data to gain useful insights into how a company is performing. Horizontal analysis is often referred to as trend analysis, but the latter term has broader applications and is not specific to financial statements. As the name suggests, trend analysis involves identifying trends and predicting outcomes, which requires analyzing data from multiple consecutive periods.

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It’s often used when analyzing the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. This means Mistborn Trading saw an increase of $20,000 in revenue in the current year as compared to the prior year, which was a 20% increase. The same dollar change and percentage change calculations would be used for the income statement line items as well as the balance sheet line items. The figure below shows the complete horizontal analysis of the income statement and balance sheet for Mistborn Trading. Horizontal analysis, also known as trend analysis, involves the comparison of financial statement data across multiple periods to identify trends, patterns, and changes. By examining year-to-year changes in key financial metrics, you can gain insights into a company’s growth, stability, and overall performance.

Impact of Reporting Standards on Horizontal Analysis

Regardless, accounting changes and one-off events can be used to correct such an anomaly and enhance horizontal analysis accuracy. An alternate method of performing horizontal analysis calculations is to simply calculate the percentage change between two years as shown in the following example. One of the main tasks of an analyst is to perform an extensive analysis of financial statements.

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. From 2021 to 2020, we’ll take the comparison year (2021) and subtract the corresponding amount recorded in the base year (2020). Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI’s full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs. Access and download collection of free Templates to help power your productivity and performance.

Assessing Business Performance and Financial Health

It is also useful for inter-firm or inter-departmental performance comparisons as one can see relative proportions of account balances, regardless of the size of the business or department. As seen from the above example, every ratio is given in relation to the revenue in the case of income statement. Financial statement analysis presents you with your firm’s liquidity, debt, and profitability, emerging problems, and strengths. All these are taken into account in relation to identifying your past financial performance and your prospects for the future. In this second example, I will do a horizontal analysis of Company B’s current assets based on the annual balance sheets. On the other hand, horizontal analysis looks at amounts from the financial statements over a horizon of many years.

Step 2: Determine Comparison Methods

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 unrelated business income tax requirements comparison period may look much better than they are. The example from Safeway Stores shows a comparative balance sheet for 2018 and 2019 following a similar format to the income statement above.

Trend analysis is the evaluation of financial performance based on a restatement of financial statement dollar amounts to percentages. Horizontal analysis trend percentage can be found by finding the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement by the scheduling of current and fixed assets and statement of retained earnings. A single item in a financial statement, such as net income, is often useful in interpreting the financial performance of a company. However, a comparison with prior periods often makes the financial information even more useful. For example, comparing net income of the current period with the net income of the prior period will indicate whether the company’s operating performance has improved. Further analysis via horizontal analysis will likely be required to unlock those insights, and make use of them in a strategic way.

Trend Analysis is a technique used to identify trends spanning different accounting periods by highlighting the changes in different financial statements when comparing items to each other. Horizontal Analysis, also known as Trend Analysis, is an analysis technique in accounting used over financial statements such as balance sheets, statements of retained earnings, and income statements, among others. In other words, one can take year-on-year or quarter-on-quarter growth rates of all the items of the income statement or the balance sheet – based on the historical data. For example, in the income statement, we can, based on historical data and trends, make assumptions about sales growth and then forecast the sales growth rates through the forecast periods. That’s exactly why it’s called horizontal analysis – you compare the data from each period side by side to calculate your results.

Aggregated information compiled in financial statements may have changed over time, presenting businesses with a problem. Perhaps, the most important aim of financial analysis is identifying your company prospects through trends for both the near future and long-term periods. Through horizontal analysis, the different items can be seen to have different increases and decreases, with each item only compared with its corresponding counterpart in the alternate balance sheet.

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