horizontal analysis of balance sheet

This can be useful in checking whether a company is performing well or badly, and identify areas where it may improve. 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. In the next section, you have step-by-step instructions on how to do horizontal analysis with examples using a balance sheet and an income statement. This means that some organizations maneuver the growth and profitability trends reported in the analysis with a combination of methods to break down business segments.

  • Calculating this involves subtracting the base period’s value from the comparison period‘s value, dividing the result by the base period’s value, then multiplying by 100.
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  • Horizontal analysis, also known as trend analysis, is used to spot financial trends over a specific number of accounting periods.
  • Besides analyzing the past performance, analysis helps determine the strategy of a company moving forward.
  • Horizontal analysis looks at amounts from the financial statements over a horizon of many years.

In each industry, market participants attempt to solve different problems and encounter various obstacles, resulting in financial performance that reflects a given industry’s state. The accounting period covered could be one-month, a quarter, or a full fiscal year. Horizontal analysis shows a company’s growth and financial position versus competitors. Using this information, you identify the areas of your business that have seen the most positive changes, what works well for your business, and areas that have experienced negative downturns and need improvement and attention. Rather than comparing revenues from 2019, Horizontal Analysis still compares the revenues of 2020 to 2018 .

Horizontal Analysis Examples

Consequently, it has an increase of $10 million in its net income and $2 million in its retained earnings year over year. First, a direction comparison simply looks at the results from one period and comparing it to another. For example, the total company-wide revenue last quarter might have been $75 million, while the total company-wide revenue this quarter might be $85 million. This type of comparison is most often used to spot high-level, easily identifiable differences. Compared to horizontal analysis, the changes are not strictly presented as percentages and are also presented as variance . Calculate the average gross profit margin percentage by dividing your total gross profit by your total sales amount from Step 1.

  • Whether you do a horizontal analysis quarterly or yearly, it’s worth the time and effort to perform this calculation regularly.
  • Likewise, a high percentage rate indicates the need to improve the use of Assets.
  • Income statements are often shared as quarterly and annual reports, showing financial trends and comparisons over time.
  • As we see, we can correctly identify the trends and develop relevant areas to target for further analysis.
  • For example, if your industry is seasonal, comparing consecutive quarters would provide misleading results.

Cash in the current year is $110,000 and total assets equal $250,000, giving a common-size percentage of 44%. If the company had an expected cash balance of 40% of total assets, they would be exceeding expectations. This may not be enough of a difference to make a change, but if they notice this deviates from industry standards, they may need to make adjustments, such as reducing the amount of cash on hand to reinvest in the business. The figure below shows the common-size calculations on the comparative income statements and comparative balance sheets for Mistborn Trading. The highlighted part of the figure shows the number used as the base to create the common-sizing.

Download Balance Sheet Horizontal Analysis Excel Template – ExcelDataPro

For example, earnings per share may have been rising because the cost of goods sold has been falling or because sales have been growing steadily. Items such as expenses, current assets, liabilities, among many others may have been added or removed when compared to the base period and, as balances are compared sequentially, this leads to a loophole. 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.

horizontal analysis of balance sheet

First, decide which periods you will be comparing, carefully choosing comparable periods. 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.


The more popular financial statements over which Horizontal Analysis is executed are the income statement and balance sheet. All items on the balance sheet and income statement for the year 2008 have been compared with the items of balance sheet and income statement for the year 2007. The earliest period is usually used as the base period and the items on the statements for all later periods are compared with items on the statements of the base period. Horizontal analysis is a financial horizontal analysis of balance sheet statement analysis technique that shows changes in the amounts of corresponding financial statement items over a period of time. 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.

Either the data of the rest of the years is expressed as a percentage of the base year or an absolute comparison is performed. For this example, the analysis will be carried out on the data reported for 2021 and 2022. However, you can do this very quickly for multiple years, particularly if you’re interested in long-term trends. Drag down the cell with the formula to copy it to the other revenue line items, as well as the total net revenue. For this example, I will carry out the analysis of the data reported for 2021 and 2022.

Without analysis, a business owner may make mistakes understanding the firm’s financial condition. For example, an Assets to Sales ratio is a measure of a firm’s productive use of Assets. Whereas a low percentage rate compared to the average for the industry usually indicates an efficient use of Assets. Likewise, a high percentage rate indicates the need to improve the use of Assets. Horizontal, or trend, analysis is used to spot and evaluate trends over a specific period of time.

Another method of horizontal analysis is calculating the variance between multiple financial items in multiple financial statements and spanning multiple accounting periods. You can calculate these changes by comparing items in the base accounting period with other items in subsequent periods and financial statements. 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. Important information can result from looking at changes in the same financial statement over time, both in terms of dollar amounts and percentage differences.

Step 2: Determine Comparison Methods

The first step to performing horizontal analysis is to calculate the net difference — in dollar terms ($) — between the comparable periods. Suppose we’re tasked with performing horizontal analysis on a company’s financial performance from fiscal years ending 2020 to 2021. Horizontal analysis, or “time series analysis”, is oriented around identifying trends and patterns in the revenue growth profile, profit margins, and/or cyclicality over a predetermined period. 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.

What is a horizontal analysis of a balance sheet?

Horizontal analysis is a financial analysis technique used to evaluate a company's performance over time. 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.

How to interpret horizontal and vertical analysis of balance sheet?

Horizontal analysis represents changes over years or periods, while vertical analysis represents amounts as percentages of a base figure. Horizontal analysis usually examines many reporting periods, while vertical analysis typically focuses on one reporting period.