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By Sharon Brown, Full-Time Faculty, School of
Business Published December 2013
Financial statement analysis identifies the financial
strengths and weaknesses of a company by establishing a relationship between
the items of the balance sheet and the income statement.
Many methods or techniques can be used in analysis of financial
statements. A company can use comparative statements, schedule of changes in working capital, common size percentages, funds
analysis, trend analysis, and ratios analysis.
Companies prepare financial statements to meet internal and
external reporting obligations and for use in decision making. The information
provided in the financial statements must be combined with ratios and trend
analysis to get a complete picture of the company’s operations for the
information to be considered useful.
Horizontal and vertical analysis and ratios analysis are a few of the techniques that companies can use to
Comparison of two or more years of financial data is known as
horizontal analysis, or trend analysis. This method shows changes between years
in both dollar amount and as a percentage.
Companies can also use trend percentage, in which financial data of several years is stated in terms
of a base year. The base year equals 100 percent, with all other years stated
in some percentage of this base.
Vertical analysis is a method of preparing and presenting
common size statements. Common size statement shows the items as a percentage
as well as in dollar amount. Each item is stated as a percentage of a total (total
revenue on the income statement and total assets on the balance sheet). Key
financial changes and trends can be seen through use of common size statements.
Ratio analysis is one of the most powerful tools of
financial statement analysis. A ratio is one number expressed in terms of
another. Ratios are a statistical benchmark that can be used to compare or
measure performance. Ratios are calculated by dividing one number by another
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
By Jerry Taylor
By Geoffrey Vanderpal
By Dr. Denise Schoenherr
By Stanley W. Self, CFE
By Rachel Byers, Full-Time Faculty, School of Business
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Maylee talks about her experiences with Kaplan Financial Education and preparing for her exams.
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