Financial statement information is used by both external and internal users, including investors, creditors, managers, and executives. These users must analyze the information in order to make business decisions, so understanding financial statements is of great importance. Several methods of performing financial statement analysis exist. This article discusses two of these methods: horizontal analysis and vertical analysis. Horizontal Analysis
Methods of financial statement analysis generally involve comparing certain information. The horizontal analysis compares specific items over a number of accounting periods. For example, accounts payable may be compared over a period of months within a fiscal year, or revenue may be compared over a period of several years. These comparisons are performed in one of two different ways. Absolute Dollars
One method of performing a horizontal financial statement analysis compares the absolute dollar amounts of certain items over a period of time. For example, this method would compare the actual dollar amount of operating expenses over a period of several accounting periods. This method is valuable when trying to determine whether a company is conservative or excessive in spending on certain items. This method also aids in determining the effects of outside influences on the company, such as increasing gas prices or a reduction in the cost of materials. Percentage
The other method of performing horizontal financial statement analysis compares the percentage difference in certain items over a period of time. The dollar amount of the change is converted to a percentage change. For example, a change in operating expenses from $1,000 in period one to $1,050in period two would be reported as a 5% increase. This method is particularly useful when comparing small companies to large companies. (1050 – 1000)/1000 X 100 = 5% Financial...