vertical analysis

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, the current period’s profits may appear excellent when only compared with those of the previous quarter but are actually quite poor if compared to the results for the same quarter in the preceding year. Once the historical data from 2021 has been inputted into Excel, we must determine the base figure to use. Get started with premium spreadsheets and financial models customizable to your unique business needs to help you save time and streamline your processes. Let’s continue our analysis of ABC Manufacturing by applying vertical analysis to its balance sheet.

Horizontal analysis is valuable because analysts assess past performance along with the company’s current financial position or growth. Horizontal analysis can also be used to benchmark a company with competitors in the same industry. Here, we’ve chosen “Revenue” as the base figure for the common size income statement, followed by “Total Assets” for the common size balance sheet. The company’s sales have grown over this time period, but net income is down sharply in year three.

Importance of Vertical Analysis in Financial Analysis

What we don’t know, and what we can’t know from the Bookkeeping for Solo and Small Law Firms, is why that is happening. By leveraging these practical applications, you can harness the power of vertical analysis to enhance financial decision-making and improve overall business performance. Understanding these key components is vital to the successful execution and interpretation of vertical analysis.

  • By comparing prior-period financial results with more current financial results, a company is better able to spot the direction of change in account balances and the magnitude in which that change has occurred.
  • Horizontal analysis typically shows the changes from the base period in dollar and percentage.
  • To do that, we’ll create a “common size income statement” and perform a vertical analysis.
  • By analyzing the percentages of line items, you can make informed predictions and support strategic planning.
  • The cash flow statement tracks the inflows and outflows of cash in a company during a given period.

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. Vertical analysis makes it much easier to compare the financial statements of one company with another, and across industries. The purpose of vertical analysis is to provide insights into the distribution and significance of various components within a financial statement. By expressing line items as percentages, vertical analysis allows for a clearer understanding of the relative importance of different elements and helps identify trends, patterns, and potential areas of concern or opportunity. Vertical analysis is an accounting tool that enables proportional analysis of documents, such as financial statements. While performing a vertical analysis, every line item on a financial statement is entered as a percentage of another item.

Everything You Need To Master Financial Modeling

The placement is not much of a concern in our simple exercise, however, the analysis can become rather “crowded” given numerous periods. Vertical analysis is used in order to gain a picture of whether performance metrics are improving or deteriorating. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.

vertical analysis

To reiterate from earlier, dividing by total assets is akin to dividing by the sum of liabilities and equity. For example, the amount of cash reported on the balance sheet on Dec. 31 of 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 will be expressed as a percentage of the Dec. 31, 2014, amount. By following these tips, you can enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of your vertical analysis and make informed financial assessments.

Example 1: Vertical Analysis of Income Statement

It enables the accountant to see relative changes in company accounts over a given period of time. This change could be driven by higher expenses in the production process, or it could represent lower prices. We can’t know for sure without hearing from the company’s management, but with this vertical analysis we can clearly and quickly see that ABC Company’s cost of goods sold and gross profits are a big issue.

Financial statements that include What Is Accounting For Startups And Why Is It Important? clearly show line item percentages in a separate column. These types of financial statements, including detailed vertical analysis, are also known as common-size financial statements and are used by many companies to provide greater detail on a company’s financial position. Similarly, in a balance sheet, every entry is made not in terms of absolute currency but as a percentage of the total assets. Performing a vertical analysis of a company’s cash flow statement represents every cash outflow or inflow relative to its total cash inflows.


To do that, we’ll create a “common size income statement” and perform a For each account on the income statement, we divide the given number by the company’s sales for that year. Vertical analysis can guide decision-making processes by providing insights into the financial implications of various options. Whether you’re considering cost-cutting measures, pricing strategies, or investment decisions, vertical analysis helps evaluate the potential impact on key line items. Accurate and reliable financial statements are essential for conducting effective vertical analysis. If the financial statements contain errors or are not prepared in accordance with accounting principles, the results of vertical analysis may be misleading.