Horizontal Analysis Meaning, Formula, Examples

horizontal analysis interpretation

For example, in this illustration, the year 2012 is chosen as a representative year of the firm’s activity and is therefore chosen as the base. With a Horizontal Analysis, also, known as a “trend analysis,” you can spot trends in your financial data over time. For example, using financial ratios can be helpful in determining costs or identifying changes in processes to increase savings. Thereby, achieving a goal of the budgeting process to determine the firm’s game plan. This ratio is a measure of the ability of a firm to turn Inventory into Sales. In this case, the higher the ratio, the better the business is using Inventory.

What would a horizontal analysis report?

Horizontal analysis is the comparison of historical financial information over various reporting periods. It helps determine a companies' growth and financial position versus competitors. The horizontal analysis technique uses a base year and a comparison year to determine a company's growth.

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. The primary difference between vertical analysis and horizontal analysis is that vertical analysis is focused on the relationships between the numbers in a single reporting period, or one moment in time.

Similar to Analysis and interpretation of ratios (

The intent is to see if any numbers are unusually high or low in comparison to the information for bracketing periods, which may then trigger a detailed investigation of the reason for the difference. From the analysis, we can make out that both cash and prepaid expenses increased in 2017 compared to 2016. For the income statement, the items of the statement are divided by revenue. The presentation of the changes from year to year for each line item can be analyzed to see where positive progress is occurring over time, such as increases in revenue and profit and decreases in cost.

  • These ratios make problems related to the growth and profitability of a company evident and clear.
  • For example, you may show merchandise inventory or accounts receivable as a percentage of total assets.
  • These documents can also show a company’s emerging successes and potential weaknesses, based on metrics such as inventory turnover, profit margin, and return on equity.
  • The level of detail in your financial statements depends heavily on the accounting software you use.
  • Stock thefts Theft of inventory causes the closing stock to decrease and therefore the cost of sales to increase in a manner that is out of proportion to the sales.
  • Consistency constraint here means that the same accounting methods and principles must be used each year since they remain constant over the years.

“My experience has been that most business owners wait too late to address the P&L and do not have a cash flow statement. The cash flow statement is a great indicator of if a company is profitable in most cases,” he told The Balance. Calculate the percentage of each item as a percentage of sales or total assets but dividing the amount of the selected item with sales/total assets and multiplying it by 100. Providing students with an overview of financial statements using the Dupont analysis approach. As a financial statement, balance sheet is concerned with summarizing assert owned by the firm and sources of borrowing and owned funds in acquiring these assets. Figure shows a hypothetical balance sheet of Annapurna Textile Inc. as on June 2018. Horizontal analysis is the comparison of historical financial information over a series of reporting periods, or of the ratios derived from this financial information.

Horizontal Analysis Video

Any stark deviation in trend may be an indication of some anomaly in reporting that requires immediate investigation. It can be used to assess the performance of a company over a period of time. This analysis technique can provide an overall picture of where the subject company stands in terms of financial matters.

  • The report also includes earnings per share , which details how much money the company’s shareholders could expect to receive if the company made a distribution of all its net earnings for the period.
  • There’s a reason horizontal analysis is often referred to as trend analysis.
  • The above is only meant to illustrate the process and, being for one term only, cannot be seen as decisive.
  • Horizontal analysis is considered the most important financial statement analysis and for the annual reports.
  • The ratios, therefore, are not restricted to the current assets and current liabilities but deal rather with the total assets and total liabilities.

Recall that horizontal analysis calculates changes in comparative statement items or totals, whereas vertical analysis consists of a comparison of items on a single financial statement. 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 based horizontal analysis of lined up numbers. The horizontal analysis compares the figures under the head of the financial statement and the vertical analysis compared the numbers and percentage change in line up the total of items with reference to the previous year. A notable problem with the horizontal analysis is that the compilation of financial information may vary over time.


This is done for single year, analyses the changes over time and the effect of one line item to another as well as to the base amount . Indeed, sometimes companies change the way they break down their business segments to make the horizontal analysis of growth and profitability trends more difficult to detect.

Shareholders’ equity, also called capital or net worth, is the cash value of the company if all assets were to be sold and all liabilities paid off. Shareholders’ equity is the amount owners invested in the company’s stock plus or minus the company’s earnings or losses since its inception. The following analysis shows that the portion of the cost of sales has increased by over 4% comparing the records of 2017 and 2016. Consider enrolling in Financial Accounting or our other online finance and accounting courses, which can teach you the key financial topics you need to understand business performance and potential. Download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

Using horizontal analysis

Structured Query Language is a specialized programming language designed for interacting with a database…. Gain in-demand industry knowledge and hands-on practice that will help you stand out from the competition and become a world-class financial analyst. 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. A horizontal line proceeds from left to right on a chart, or parallel to the x-axis.

  • 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.
  • For example, although other assets declined USD 6.3 million in 2010, the decrease of 1.4 per cent in the account represents only approximately 4.8 per cent of total assets and, therefore, probably does not have great significance.
  • In order to lessen this weakness, some companies perform regular revaluations of their assets and/or provide their users with ‘inflation adjusted financial statements’.
  • In other words, it gives the management a benchmark of how future performance should be and the necessary changes required in the future.
  • Outside of the academic environment he has many years of experience working as an economist, risk manager, and fixed income analyst.

You need at least two accounting periods for a valid comparison, but if you want to really spot trends, you should have at least three, if not more accounting periods of data available for calculating horizontal analysis. Horizontal analysis uses a line-by-line comparison to compare the totals.